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New Book Questions The 'Truth' About Dolphin Smarts

7th October 2013
New Book Questions The 'Truth' About Dolphin Smarts

#MarineWildlife - The Daily Express looks to two of Ireland's resident cetaceans, Duggie and Fungie, for answers to the question of whether dolphin intelligence is truly all it's cracked up to be.

Dingle's famous dolphin Fungie should need no introduction, but the story of Duggie might be new to you: this dolphin apparently befriended a labrador named Ben after losing her own mate in the waters around Tory Island off Donegal.

Both dolphins are remarkable for the relationships they've formed with different species - see the story of a Dutch couple's bonding with Fungie over more than two decades for further evidence.

However, some scientists want to throw water on the notion that dolphins are humans' closest intellectual peers in the animal kingdom.

"In terms of intelligence they are nowhere near as special as they have been portrayed," says zoologist Justin Gregg, who has written a new book, Are Dolphins Really Smart?, that questions the widely-held wisdom that dolphins have superior brains to the likes of dogs, or that the complex sounds they make are language.

But is is really such a stretch to say that dolphins have a language of their own? Only last year US marine science boffins were baffled by a beluga whale who spontaneously mimicked human speech - in what sounded like a Donegal Irish accent.

The Daily Express has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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