> All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.
> Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.
> Her cunning has not stopped there. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, she grabbed it, waited for the trainers and then gave it to them. It was a large bird and so the trainers gave her lots of fish. This seemed to give Kelly a new idea. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to lure the gulls, which she would catch to get even more fish. After mastering this lucrative strategy, she taught her calf, who taught other calves, and so gull-baiting has become a hot game among the dolphins.
TIL: Dolphins independently discovered capitalism
The bigger question is when does this evolve into the dolphins holding people hostage for large sums of fish?
My local conservation park has trained the orangutans to return anything that falls into the moat around their island in return for treats. One day one of the keepers dropped an extending window cleaning brush into the water. One of the orangutans fished it out, studied it for a while, dismantled into as many pieces as possible, and returned each one individually.
Too clever for captivity.
Something similar happened with the dead sea scrolls. The local herders who found the caves tore them into smaller bits since they were paid by the piece.
I used to work in tourism industry as a swim guide for dolphin charters... bring customers out on a boat an snorkel w/ them as wild spinner dolphin pods would swim by.
Can confirm they are very smart creatures. And very inquisitive/playful... One of the few wild animals I have encountered that aren't immediately scared/cautious of humans when they see them in the wild.
They really don't belong in captivity... We put them in captivity most of the time because we are simply too lazy to drive a boat out for a hour and find them in the wild. So they buy some in captivity to put poolside at the hotel resort. It's kind of sad.
I work with humans that aren’t as smart as this dolphin
For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backwards-somersault through a hoop whilst whistling the ‘Star Spangled Banner’, but in fact the message was this: So long and thanks for all the fish.