Credit: Copyright Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)
A pod of dolphins in the wild life Down Under can literally walk on water, thanks to some statement of “Billie,” a wild dolphin who learned while they were briefly in captivity, a new study found.
The performance emphasizes how the dolphins can learn incredible skills from one to the other in the wild, even if these skills are not well-known advantage in order to survive, the researchers said.
However, this so-called tail, that the mammals reached by vigorously pumping their tails under water, so that the rest of their body is elevated above the water, seems to be on a whim. Now that Billie and other prominent tail-walking dolphins that have died, the other dolphins in the pod is not doing the trick so much, the researchers said. [Deep Divers: A Gallery of Dolphins]
The wild story began when Billie, an Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), was rescued in January 1988, after he was locked up in a polluted harbor in the south of Australia. During her recovery, Billie stayed in a nearby dolphinarium for a number of weeks. At that time, the dolphinarium was also the home of five other captive dolphins that were trained to do different tricks, including the tail, for the public shows.
Billie never had any form of training itself, but it turns out that they observed the other dolphins perform their tail-walking act, the researchers said. In 1995, seven years after She was released back into the wild, researchers spotted with her tail, just like a child imitating their favourite stars.
What happened next was even more impressive: Another wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Billie’s pod tail started to walk, making a fresh spin on what is, perhaps, similar to Michael Jackson moonwalk.
The researchers observed 11 tumblers — six adult females and five young animals (three women, two men) — Billie’s pod walk on the water. And the pod had a striking star: Golf, a female who was several times seen walking on the water, from 2007 to 2014, the researchers said.
The wild dolphins usually did their walk-on-water in the presence of other animals, the researchers noted. But it is not clear why the dolphins did, especially since tail-walking is a “radical view,” the researchers wrote in the study.
However, Billie died in August 2009, and waves, last seen in September 2014, is now presumed dead. This may explain why the number of tail walkers and walk-and-talk episodes decreased after 2011, the researchers noted.
Although the tail now rarely happens within the pod, researchers are still amazed that it happened. Dolphins are known for the learning of specific behaviors of their social group, but usually these are practices to help with survival, including strategies that can help them forage for food.
These learned skills are sometimes, but not always, passed on from generation to generation. In this case, it seems that the skill was of short duration, the researchers said. But she stresses that it is a unique craze, because they are “not aware of any other reports [of the tail] in this species,” the researchers said in the study.
The study is published online in the Sept. 5 in the journal Biology Letters.
Original article on Live Science.