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Risso's dolphins are captured in Taiji hunt. Image: LIA and Dolphin Project

Heartbreak and practical action – the horror of the Taiji dolphin hunts and one Japanese activist’s determination

Back in November, I shared my heartache at the drama unfolding in the waters off...
Common Dolphin

Goodbye Bycatch – what have we achieved and what’s next?

Thank you to everyone who's got involved with our campaign to stop dolphins, porpoises and...
Haul of sea bass on French pair trawlers, Le Baron and Magellan, fishing in the English channel. Greenpeace is currently in the English channel protesting against pelagic pair trawling due to the high numbers of dolphin deaths associated with it.

Seaspiracy

Ali and Lucy Tabrizi's Netflix film Seaspiracy is compelling viewing for anyone who cares for...
Porpoise, Conwy Wales. WDC

Why do porpoises and dolphins find it so difficult to avoid fishing nets?

When a dolphin or porpoise is caught or entangled in fishing gear it's known as...
WDC NA

Reflection – what this remarkable whale teaches us about humpbacks and their fascinating lives

Reflection, like all humpback whales, was born with a unique black and white pattern on...

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...

Growing up with the amazing Adelaide Port River dolphins

Squeak, one of the Port River dolphins If you are able to make a donation,...

Real lives lost – the true dolphin, porpoise and whale stories behind the bycatch statistics

Every dolphin, porpoise and whale who dies in fishing gear was an individual with their...

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.

humpback with calf 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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Julia Pix

About Julia Pix

Communications manager - Public Engagement

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