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7 Of The Most Intelligent Ocean Animals (VIDEOS/PHOTOS)

Huffington Post     First Posted: 06/16/10 06:12 AM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 05:05 PM ET

From cetaceans to cephalopods, our oceans are filled with many intelligent creatures. As new research is conducted, we discover more and more fascinating facts about the complexity of the brains of certain sea animals.

We've put together a collection showing you some of the most incredibly clever marine life.

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  • Dolphin Teamwork

    Many argue that dolphins have the highest intelligence of any animal after humans. This video shows a unique hunting technique these dolphins have developed using precisely coordinate teamwork. Evidence of their intelligence, the feat requires prior planning and communication to organize. They display levels of awareness that exhibit sophisticated comprehension, including an <a href="http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20041108/dolphin.html" target="_hplink">understanding</a> of symbol-based language and abstract concepts. Dolphins are also the only other documented animal, aside from humans and other high primates, to <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/05/0502_dolphinvanity.html" target="_hplink">recognize themselves</a> in mirrors and notice changes in their appearance. Watch <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz3sQsTE5tA" target="_hplink">another video</a> to witness the highly developed cognitive processes that dolphins use to communicate with humans.

  • Sea Lion Memory & Logic

    Sea lions are highly intelligent carnivores. They are so smart that the Navy has a <a href="http://www.navy.org/the-navy-training-seals-and-sea-lions/" target="_hplink">Marine Mammal Program</a> that focuses on training California Sea Lions, along with bottlenose dolphins, to protect ships and harbors, detect mines, and help recover equipment. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX0kDzzZa3k" target="_hplink">Go here</a> for a video that shows Rio, an incredibly bright sea lion that can complete IQ tests that are baffling to many humans. Rio has also displayed evidence of having the <a href="http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2960-sea-lion-scores-top-for-memory.html" target="_hplink">best memory</a> of any non-human animal, recalling how to perform a task that she hadn’t done in 10 years, and apply it in new ways.

  • Octopus Mimicing Other Species

    In the <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2192211/" target="_hplink">1950s</a>, it was discovered that octopuses could distinguish between and remember a variety of geometric shapes. More recently, various research has shown many more signs of complex intelligence. Octopuses are cunning and creative when it comes to adapting to a wide array of new challenges and solving intricate puzzles. They even exhibit signs of <a href="http://discovermagazine.com/2003/oct/feateye" target="_hplink">play and personality</a>. They are notorious for being troublesome aquarium inhabitants: squirting jets of water to <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/3328480/Otto-the-octopus-wrecks-havoc.html" target="_hplink">short out overhead lights</a>, damaging tanks and <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090227-octopus-mischief.html" target="_hplink">flooding aquariums</a>, even escaping their own tanks and <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/legging-it-evasive-octopus-who-has-been-allowed-to-look-for-love-1609168.html" target="_hplink">breaking into others'</a> to feed and then closing everything back up before returning to their own tank. <br>This video shows the clever ability of an Indonesian Mimic Octopus to disguise itself as a flounder, lion fish, and sea snake as a defensive mechanism. Other videos show an octopus <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfRqYjv9QgA" target="_hplink">teaching itself</a> to open a bottle and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmDTtkZlMwM" target="_hplink">blending in</a> with coral.

  • Sea Otter Tool Use

    Sea otters display intelligent traits like playfulness and tool use. Their <a href="http://www.vanaqua.org/education/aquafacts/seaotters.html" target="_hplink">ability</a> to use rocks to break open food, such as clams, makes them one of the few tool-using mammals. They also exhibit intelligence in <a href="http://www.allthesea.com/Sea-Otter.html" target="_hplink">avoiding</a> toxic shellfish. Watch a sea otter break open a clam by smashing it against a rock on its belly <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc99_FarCNM" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Killer Whale Culture

    Contrary to common misconceptions, killer whales are actually large dolphins. They display many intelligent traits, including evidence of <a href="http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/06/whaleculture/" target="_hplink">culture</a>. Killer whales are known to develop distinct dialects and unique hunting habits among their pods, and many of these customs are passed down to their young. This video shows a group of killer whales employing teamwork to deal with an unusual challenge while hunting.

  • Cuttlefish Communication

    Like the octopus, the cuttlefish is a cephalopod, and considered highly intelligent. It has camouflaging abilities similar to the octopus, able to change color and texture to adapt to a variety of environments. The cuttlefish also displays intelligent communication skills, adapting its behavior uniquely to specific interactions with other cuttlefish and different <a href="http://notexactlyrocketscience.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/cuttlefish-tailor-their-defences-to-their-predators/" target="_hplink">predators</a>. They even use <a href="http://discovermagazine.com/2003/oct/feateye" target="_hplink">deception</a>, as males will adopt female colors and forms to slip past large rivals and mate with guarded females. <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnhc1KALHxE" target="_hplink">Go here</a> for a clip that shows some of the ingenious abilities of the cuttlefish.

  • Grocery Shopping Penguin

    The clever penguin in this video was rescued from a fishing line and didn't want to leave once his injuries healed. He has been living with this Japanese family for 10 years. This video shows how he makes trips on his own to the fish market, bringing fish back to the home in a small backpack.


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