To hold captive dolphins entertained, marine services usually give them pool noodles and rings to play with. But a brand new examine suggests these ocean mammals additionally enjoy a extra human pastime: TV.
Researchers at Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder in Key Largo, Florida, positioned giant TV screens at underwater home windows and performed movies for teams of 11 bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and 5 rough-toothed (Steno bredanensis) dolphins. These included ocean or jungle scenes from the character documentary Planet Earth and episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants (to check whether or not the dolphins most well-liked reveals with extra naturalistic ocean settings). Then they monitored the dolphins’ conduct for indicators of curiosity, comparable to urgent their heads towards the glass or nodding their heads, or indicators of aggression, comparable to clamping their jaws or swimming with jerky actions.
The dolphins didn’t have a favourite present: They had been interested in the TV no matter what was on, in line with outcomes the crew will publish inZoo Biology. Even hearing-impaired dolphins paid consideration, indicating that transferring footage alone may captivate dolphins. Some animals—notably the males—reacted extra aggressively than others, the researchers famous.
The crew suggests dolphin keepers considering attempting this method with the animals of their care ought to conduct trial periods first. For dolphins which are unfit for launch, TV could be one other approach to stimulate their brains. The researchers additionally cite one other potential profit: Monitoring how dolphins reply to completely different movies could present new methods to review how they assume.