Dolphin Foraging Techniques Essay

Dolphin Foraging Techniques Essay

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Bottlenose dolphins are known to use sea sponges as tools when foraging for food in the ocean. This behavior is referred to as “sponging”. “Sponging” refers to when these particular dolphins put a sea sponge over their rostrum (snout area) and use it to help collect food. Different explanations have been given as to why Bottlenose Dolphins engage in this behavior. It has been perceived that young dolphins learn this behavior from their mothers. Researchers are also exploring the option that a differentiation in diving skills exists between dolphins caused by variation in the mitochondrial genes processing of proteins that are involved in the creation of the Bottlenose Dolphins’ respiratory system, and that variation may have lead them to utilize sea sponge as foraging tools. In past studies dolphins that “sponge” have appeared to be from the same ancestress, or female lineage, which gives evidence to both practical possibilities. The first study in the western gulf of shark bay tested a coding region of mtDNA genes, and the other, in the Eastern Gulf of Shark Bay tested HVRI, a non-coding section of mtDNA. However, within the latter study, heritability was not able to explain the rest of the results. This particular study was created to research weather a specific mitochondrial coding can prove a dolphin will engage in this sponging behavior or not, and weather testing coding or non coding sections of mtDNA are better for interpreting weather the dolphin will “sponge” or not . The researchers were also interested in whether these genes were under a natural selection process.


The research took place in an area referred to as Shark Bay, which is on Australia’s west coast, fixed on a peninsula. The first step of the ...

... middle of paper ...

...ty over all. Such as, when dolphins start to use the tool, and more about what the process involves, etc. It’s sort of like knowing and extensive medical history of patient in a hospital. It helps know more about the history of sponging in this community of dolphins. It would have been nice to see the study account for all the other foraging techniques. The article explains that there is many other foraging techniques that the bottle dolphins uses. If the study included those foraging techniques, maybe it would have shown a clearer picture of the overall use of foraging techniques and perhaps led them to rule out genetics in other ways.

Works Cited

Bacher, K. , Allen, S. , Lindholm, A. , Bejder, L. , & Krutzen, M. (2010). Genes or culture: Are mitochondrial genes associated with tool use in bottlenose dolphins ( tursiops sp.)?. Behavior Genetics, 40(5), 706-714.

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