This is an amazing video, showing a dolphin approaching a group of divers off shore of Hawaii and pleading for help with an embedded fishhook and fishing line.
Seriously, dudes. Take a look at this.
Okay, sure, there are other ways this could be interoperated, but I feel the dolphin’s intent is quite clear. That dolphin is approaching those talking apes, currently trespassing underwater, and asking for help with something it can’t do for itself.
The interesting thing to me is not that the dolphin asked for help. We’ve seen numerous examples of animals seeking help from other animals, or even domesticated animals seeking help from humans. The thing I find interesting is that this dolphin approached the human divers, apparently expecting that they would feel empathy for the dolphin and experience a desire to help.
I don’t know if this shows that the dolphin is in tremendously dire straits that it would seek help from humans, or else it understands us better than we, perhaps, think.
We’ve long known that dolphins have a higher brain to body ratio than just about any other animal on the planet, with the exception of humans, but we’ve seen very little evidence of the sort of intelligence we prize. There are no dolphin cities. No dolphin tools. No dolphin language that we can translate, even though we think they’re communicating ideas in their “speech.”
And, yet. . . There are many examples of dolphins rescuing humans stranded in the ocean. Dolphins do perform tricks for people at amusement parks (although, I’m thinking that’s a mark against if anything).
Are dolphins intelligent, as we humans define it? I’m thinking probably not. However, it would seem as if certain things can cross the intelligence/species barrier. Things like empathy and a desire to help someone other than yourself.
You know what, dudes? I think that’s pretty awesome.