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Friday, July 24, 2009

Dolphins + Mirror = Thrilling Science Investigation!

What’s it like to work with some of the most intelligent animals on Earth? Ask marine mammal lovers Cecilia and Serena, who just wrapped up a dolphin behavior research study in the Florida Keys. The girls teamed up with research scientist Dr. Jill Richardson from the University of Miami, to study dolphin personality in a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at Dolphins Plus, in Key Largo, FL.

The girls also wondered if dolphins could recognize themselves in a mirror, since the ability of an animal to recognize its own reflection in the mirror is a sign of high intelligence. The famous mirror study had never been done before at Dolphins Plus, so our SciGirls lead the charge and put their research question to the test with dolphins Elvis--a 4 year old male, and Nica--a 4 year old female. The girls got to shadow expert dolphin trainers throughout the investigation, learning how trainers and dolphins communicate through a special language of hand gestures and whistles.

When they weren’t busy collecting data, Ceci and Serena loved swimming with these gorgeous dolphins and hearing their underwater “songs” of clicks and whistles--just check out the video!

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