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Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...

Meet the brainiacs of the underwater world – deep thinkers with intricate emotional lives

Whales and dolphins have big brains, and large brained beings have a few things in common. We live long lives, we’re sociable and our behaviour is complex. Females give birth to just a few children and take extraordinary care of each baby, teaching them life skills and helping them to become independent.

Whales and dolphins behave in ways that demonstrate intelligence and a sophisticated mind. As well as learning as individuals, they pass their knowledge on to others.

© V. Mignon

Your donation will help us keep these remarkable beings safe from the many human threats they face

Like us, whales and dolphins have special cells in their brains called spindle neurons. These are associated with advanced abilities such as recognising, remembering, communicating, perceiving, adapting to change, problem-solving and understanding. So it seems that whales and dolphins are deep thinkers.

Not only that but the part of the whale and dolphin brain that processes emotions may be even more complex than our own – their social lives are intricate, requiring lots of skill to successfully manage relationships.

dolphin group V Mignon

Neuroscientist Lori Marino put it well when she said that ‘a dolphin alone is not really a dolphin; being a dolphin means being embedded in a complex social network – even more so than with humans.’ For species like orcas and bottlenose dolphins, family and community are everything. The emotional connections that tie them to one another are of a complexity that we can’t even imagine.

If people understood what intelligent and emotional beings whales and dolphins are, and realised that they are bonded together in ways that we can only try to understand, surely we’d stop killing them or confining them to tanks for our own amusement.

Did you know?

Whale and dolphin brain development graphic

The dolphin brain

Researchers in the US have used a new brain imaging technique to better understand how dolphins perceive the world.  By placing the brain of a dolphin (who had washed up dead in Carolina) in an MRI machine, they were able to create the first ever picture of an entire dolphin brain with all its connections.  The beautiful image below is a computer simulation showing the different pathways in a dolphin’s brain...wow!

DTI scan of dolphin brain Professor G Berns

Brain facts:

Sperm whales have the biggest brains on the planet

Orcas have the second largest brains on the planet

Dolphins have a brain to body ratio second only to humans

Dolphins and all toothed whales have a section of their brains for echolocation – this means they can ‘see’ using sonar.

Please help whales and dolphins with a donation

These intelligent, cultural beings need our help. Human activity threatens their way of life and often their survival. Your donation will help us protect them.

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About Julia Pix

Communications manager - Public Engagement

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