Are Cetaceans Intelligent?

Now don’t get me wrong with this post, I am fully a lover of nature et al, but another whale beaching event in Australia this week had me thinking about the reality of cetacean (whales, dolphins) intelligence. It’s been long asserted, but never proven, that whales and dolphins are intelligent, some suggest as intelligent as humans. But if they are so intelligent, why do so many regularly beach themselves?

Dolphins - Great Oyster Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

Dolphins – Great Oyster Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

Dolphins - Great Oyster Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

Dolphins – Great Oyster Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

I don’t know of any other animal (other than humans, but for perhaps different reasons) that regularly attempts to exit their natural environment into one to which they were not born. Even those that observe dolphins every day, have no desire to leave their natural, or semi-natural habitat for something completely alien.

Rastus the Border Collie cross on dolphin watch - Great Oyster Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

Rastus the Border Collie cross on dolphin watch – Great Oyster Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

We don’t find cows jumping off cliffs thinking they can soar with eagles, or wishing to be trout in local rivers, so why do cetaceans think they can be land lubbers?

Cows with feet firmly planted on the ground - High Country Victoria

Cows with feet firmly planted on the ground – High Country Victoria

Are cetaceans on some sort of marine drugs, which cause them to think they are land animals, or are they simply trying to jump start evolution once again to return them from whence they came?

Cetacea evolution - (source: Wikipedia)

Cetacea evolution – (source: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure what to think, but the monumental effort to rescue another whale this week really does make me wonder about the intelligence of cetaceans, no matter what emotions they may invoke.

Whale rescue effort - (source: Gold Coast Bulletin)

Whale rescue effort – (source: Gold Coast Bulletin)

It’s a good feeling rescuing a whale, but are we really over-estimating them?

Update 1. I was watching a nature series on whales recently (Sep 2018), which showed a female whale with a newborn calf that was being, more or less, attacked/stalked by a male whale and the female was going through great stress to protect her calf. So what came to mind is that if whales are ‘intelligent’, what does this say about this recorded action? Are male whales sex offenders, or are they simply animals that live by their primal urges and aren’t intelligent after all, no more intelligent than say a canine?