Dolphins learn from each other to beg for food from humans

May 28, 2012 By Jo Manning, Murdoch University

Dolphins learn from each other to beg for food from humans
Hook, a Cockburn Sound dolphin, was one of the chronic beggars, but is now missing. Credit: Hugh Finn
(Phys.org) -- Dolphins may learn harmful or undesirable behaviors, such as begging for food from humans, from each other, Murdoch University researchers have discovered.

After investigating the illegal feeding of Indo-Pacific by recreational fishers in Cockburn Sound, a popular Perth , researchers from the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Group (MUCRU) and the Conservation Medicine Program observed that dolphins were more likely to beg from humans if they associated closely with dolphins which had already learned to accept food handouts.

This begging behavior was also more likely if they spent more time in areas with large numbers of recreational fishers.

Over the course of a decade of monitoring, the researchers found that the number of dolphins who interacted with recreational fishers for food increased from one to at least 14 individuals – nearly 20 per cent of the dolphins resident in Cockburn Sound.

Marine biologist Bec Donaldson, from the Conservation Medicine Program, said the findings suggested that observing close associates beg for food might help dolphins learn how to become beggars themselves.

“In humans, social learning allows novel behaviours to spread rapidly through societies. The case will be similar for many wildlife,” she said.

“Social learning makes sense in smart social animals like dolphins but most new behaviours are beneficial. It is worrying to see wildlife learning harmful behaviors.

“Interactions between humans and wildlife are often dangerous, and may impact on threatened species. Our findings highlight how social learning may influence whether harmful behaviours spread through wildlife populations. We hope this knowledge informs policies to protect wildlife.”

The researchers found that the dolphins which learned to beg from humans had higher rates of injury from boat strikes and entanglement in discarded fishing line. Humans are also at risk from accidental bites during the interactions, which are illegal under state and federal law. Fines of up to $10,000 apply.

The monitoring upon which the research is based took place between 1993 and 2003. MUCRU researchers carrying out more recent studies of dolphins in Cockburn Sound have said the greater enforcement by the Department of Environment and Conservation, extra signage and a community education campaign run in 2008 for 18 months had reduced but not eliminated illegal feeding.

Ms. Donaldson was the project officer on the federal government-funded community education campaign, entitled Keep Perth’s dolphins and sea lions wild, which saw her work with Rockingham Wild Encounters, DEC, councils and industry groups to construct signs and interpretive shelters at boat ramps and jetties, produce and distribute information pamphlets and give presentations to over 100 Perth classrooms.

“We would like to expand this initiative across the state because our study suggests that even a small number of dolphins begging creates a risk of others engaging in the behaviour too,” added Ms. Donaldson.

“If humans do not feed , they will not get the opportunity to learn this damaging and dangerous behaviour from each other.”

MUCRU’s current Coastal and Estuarine Dolphin Project, which began in 2011, will allow researchers to follow up on the findings from 1993 to 2003.

Ms. Donaldson’s paper on the research, which was co-authored by Dr. Hugh Finn, Associate Professor Lars Bejder and Dr. Mike Calver from Murdoch University, and Dr. David Lusseau from the University of Aberdeen, was recently published in the journal Animal Conservation.

Explore further: Ingenious fishing method may be spreading through dolphins

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16 comments

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geokstr
2.3 / 5 (15) May 28, 2012
Leftist dolphins. Who knew?
CapitalismPrevails
2.2 / 5 (13) May 28, 2012
LOL, apparently parasite politics not only crosses boarders but species as well.
ccr5Delta32
1.6 / 5 (7) May 29, 2012
Consider it a small fee for usage of dolphin property .Typical libertarian freeloading parasites think it's fine to take whatever they can from the indigenous and fail to realize that without the indigenous you are but scavengers .

A non partisan pun .
vote left for nothing right , vote right for nothing left
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (3) May 29, 2012
LOL, apparently parasite politics not only crosses boarders but species as well.


LOL

One can only hope that --while it is true that parasite politics crosses bOrders-- we will be spared the same in terms of parasite illiteracy.

OOPS --too late!!!

LOL

ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (9) May 29, 2012
"Dolphins may learn harmful or undesirable behaviors, such as begging for food from humans,"
Why is mooching bad for dolphins but good for bums in San Francisco, ...?

"If humans do not feed dolphins, they will not get the opportunity to learn this damaging and dangerous behaviour from each other."

Can humans learn to work for their food is the state stops feeding them?
Noumenon
1 / 5 (10) May 30, 2012
"Dolphins may learn harmful or undesirable behaviors, such as begging for food from humans,... Social learning makes sense in smart social animals like dolphins but most new behaviors are beneficial. It is worrying to see wildlife learning harmful behaviors."


This is a universal phenomena, and should not have came as a surprise to anyone.

Generations of the entitlement culture have become conditioned by being 'feed' by the liberal welfare state, and as a result have become fundamentally weakened.
Noumenon
1.3 / 5 (12) May 30, 2012
In actuality the Dolphins are captives of a capitalist system and are being forced to beg for their dinner by their capitalist masters.

American Wage Slaves undoubtedly know the feeling very well.


No dingus, free capitalistic Dolphins naturally compete and innovate for survival, in accord with the principals of natural evolution. Competition and survival of the fittest.

'Captured' Dolphins, are in fact, the ones that have been domesticated by the government,.. that is to say, made dependent on government handouts for survival.

As the above study shows, the natural survival instincts are weakened, in such welfare state domesticated Dolphins. If this goes on for generations, these liberalized Dolphins will be a permanent burden on the state.

They will always support their captures though. It is an evil perpetuated on once free Dolphins.
Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
In actuality the Dolphins are captives of a capitalist system and are being forced to beg for their dinner by their capitalist masters.

American Wage Slaves undoubtedly know the feeling very well.
- pedophile Decarian -

How odd that in the 15 years that I have lived in America, I have never encountered a "wage slave".
Perhaps pedophile Decarian can explain this phenomenon that only he seems to have encountered.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) May 30, 2012
Ritchie threatens otto in another thread...
I will contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation and also the State Department to inform them of your harassment of a foreign guest from Russia.
Here let me help:
http://www.fbi.go.../e-scams
http://travel.state.gov/visa/

-Also for info on sweet sorghum farming:
http://www.doi.gov/index.cfm
http://energy.gov...-sources

-And resources for your particular affliction:
http://www.cdc.go...ditions/
http://www.dmh.ca.gov/

-Anything else you need? Maybe this?
http://www.keepdo...od80qgWg

-Perhaps they make these things for domesticated dolphins with incontinence? Or lying flooding dimwits?
Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
Pedophile Decarian proclaims that "Dolphins are captives of a capitalist system".

Dolphins and Capitalism.......somehow this does not compute!!
Noumenon
1.6 / 5 (13) May 30, 2012
How about we lay off the pedophile accusations? As much as I disagree with VD,... your insinuations here are over the line.
Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (6) May 30, 2012
(LAUGHING)
Yes, I KNEW that GhostofRetardo would soon find me again. He is in love with Richie and I think he want to marry poor Richie in same sex fashion. That is sweet, yes?
Retardo has followed me into 3 different threads so far. I am impressed.
Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
I have already called the State Department to complain that I, as a foreign guest of America, is being harassed and libeled with all manner of name calling from this GhostofBlotto person, who seems to want to control all of the threads to place himself in position so that no one else may discuss the topic. I think that even pedophile Decarian can see through him.
Russkiycremepuff
1 / 5 (5) May 30, 2012
I will cease and desist with the pedophile accusations because I have respect for Noumenon, Deathclock, Tachyon and several others.
I will leave this thread now. Thank you for your attention.
Noumenon
1 / 5 (8) May 30, 2012
So now you're saying there is some simpatico link between republicanism and pedophilia?

You're nothing more than a clown. Your way over the top irrational statements must be a condition of your general ignorance or lack of maturity.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) May 31, 2012
You forgot the clintons... and Trudeau?

http://en.wikiped..._O'Brien
http://www.youtub...a_player

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