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September 1997 Vol. 12, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Playing with Your Food

from the September, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Off St. George's Lodge in Belize, it's not uncommon to dive with wild dolphins. In May, proprietor Fred Good e-mailed us that a dolphin had ripped a sponge off the bottom, then presented it to Fred's mate, Fran. Fran and the dolphin tossed it back and forth like a ball. While at first blush it seemed that the dolphins were playing, research reported in July makes us wonder whether the dolphins weren't trying to help Fran fetch dinner. You see, a researcher observing dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia, saw female bottlenose dolphins carry sponges on the tips of their snouts while searching for food on the sea bed. The researcher believed they used the sponges both to protect themselves from stonefish and stingrays and to stir up prey.

J. Q.

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