May 3, 2012


Brazilian scientists have been studying a small fishing community in Laguna, Brazil, where fishermen work together with dolphins to catch their fish.

This friendly pod of dolphins works together, herding groups of mullet (a local fish) toward the fisherman who are waiting in boats or standing in the water. Then the dolphins slap their heads or tails on the water to show the fishermen where to throw their nets.  Both groups, the fishermen and the dolphins, catch all the fish they need by working together in this way.

What is most surprising is that It is one special group of about twenty dolphins that work with the fishermen, and they have been doing it for more than fifteen years. The men recognize them by their markings, and have even given some of them names like "Scooby" and "Caroba." There are plenty of other dolphins in the waters around Laguna. The others do not cooperate with humans, going off to fish on their own.

The cooperation behavior is probably passed down from mother dolphin to her calves, and that is how it is learned by the humans, as well. Elders in the community teach the younger fishermen how to work with the dolphins.


Photo:  Fábio Daura-Jorge

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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