Dolphins Protect Themselves With Sponges To Seek Out Bottom-Dwelling Fish

By Valerie Ross | July 21, 2011 1:48 pm

A few years ago, scientists observed that some bottle-nosed dolphins held sponges in their beaks as they poked around the ocean floor, flushing out fish they promptly gobbled up—and that mothers taught this trick to their daughters. In a follow-up study published yesterday, the scientists shed some light on why dolphins go to all this trouble: They’re after fatty, energy-rich fish on the seafloor, and the sponges let them scare up a snack without scraping their beaks on sharp rocks or coral.

[PLoS One via ScienceNOW]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World
  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    *That* is sharp thinking!

    No really, I don’t know of any other tool users (besides us, natch) that does it to minimize hurt. (Though you can probably make a good case for chimps using sticks to pick ants without coming too close to the anthill.)

  • http://www.bucktracy.com Kristine Steinhaus

    Dolphins are amazing. What we can learn about us from studying them: We are slow learners.

  • http://biancadragusanu.com/ Bianca Dragusanu

    Dolphins are indeed amazing. I also heard they are the only creatures besides humans who have sex for pleasure and not just reproduction.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »