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Australia's Smart Dolphins

Psalm 104:27: "These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season."

It was once thought that only man used tools. However, we have learned that some monkeys and even some birds use tools. Now we can add dolphins to the growing list of tool users.

Researchers studying dolphins in Australia's Shark Bay noticed that some dolphins were swimming around with sponges on their beaks. After some observation, both on the surface and beneath the water, scientists discovered what the dolphins were doing. Holding the sponges in their mouths, they would sweep the sea bottom sand, flushing out fish. Then they dropped the sponge and ate what they had flushed out. When they were done eating, they retrieved their sponge and repeated the action. Researchers found that about ten percent of the females obtain food using sponges as tools. Very few of the males use this method for unknown reasons. Furthermore, most of the females using this method are related to two maternal tool-using dolphins. Researchers debate whether they taught their descendants this method of obtaining fish or whether the behavior is based in genetics.

Since this is not widespread behavior, it seems likely that this is a learned behavior that was taught to relatives by the maternal dolphins. After all, dolphins are known to be quite intelligent, which is a gift from their Creator.

Prayer: I thank You, Lord, that You have given Your creatures an Earth and the ability to make a living on it. Amen.

Notes: Science News Online, 12-10-08,, Bruce Bower, "Dolphins Wield Tools of the Sea."

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