A dolphin in South Australia picked up the walking-on-her-tail trick while spending time recovering at an aquarium theme park. Now, back in the wild she is teaching other local dolphins the trick. The craze has been proving popular with many members of Billie’s pod joining in.
This shows two key things, personality and culture, amongst our marine cousins. Not only do the dolphins appear to enjoy this activity in some way, but they also are able to learn and encourage observed behaviours. The most interesting part is that Billie did not receive any training in the trick herself, but appears to have picked it up through casual observation during her time at the park.
Marine biologist Mike Bossley: It’s the first time dolphins in the wild have been observed learning tricks behaviour with no natural function from each other. While the pod’s antics are entertaining, they also point to possible evidence of culturally learned behaviour among dolphins, similar to learning dance moves or a language.
Dolphins off the coast of Western Australia were filmed recently teaching their young to use sea sponges to gather food, but learning to tail-walk is not a survival skill.