Dolphins form cliques – just like humans

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We know dolphins are smart and can be trained to perform, and they’ve been used by the US Navy to detect undersea obstacles.

And we now know that, like people, they can be devious.

Marine biologists who have been studying dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, for 22 years, have discovered another trait they thought only applied to humans.

The best food in the bay was hidden under the sand and to get it the dolphins had to dig with their noses which got scraped in the process.

That is until a dolphin learned to break off a sea sponge and put it on her snout when foraging to protect her nose. She became known as “Sponging Eve”.

Monkeys are known to use stones to crack open nuts and the young learn by imitating their elders.

However in the case of these dolphins the habit has not spread widely. The biologists noticed that the dolphins who did copy “Sponging Eve” kept together in groups. After 20 years of this the habit is still not widespread but confined to an elite few.

Writing in Nature Communications the biologists said; ” Spongers were more cliquish, had more sponger associates and stronger bonds with each other than with non-spongers”.

Just like humans the privileged few tend to stick together, perhaps to protect their advantage.


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