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Dave Ross

Can a wild dolphin really ask for help?

This annotated Oct. 20, 2016 image made available by NASA shows a spot, indicated by a rectangular box, that likely appeared in connection with the Oct. 19, 2016 Mars arrival of the European Space Agency's Schiaparelli test lander. On Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, the ESA said their experimental Mars probe hit the right spot -- but at the wrong speed -- and may have ended up in a fiery ball of rocket fuel when it struck the surface. This view was captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. (NASA via AP)

A seasoned diver by the name of Keller Laros certainly thinks so.

“He put himself in the position to allow me to most effectively remove the hook and the line,” says Laros.

You’ve probably seen the video — a dolphin swims toward Laros off the coast of Hawaii with a fishing line wrapped around its pectoral fin.

“I reached out with my left hand because I was holding my camera in my right hand and I gestured with my index finger, come here, and he swam right up to me,” says Laros.

Laros cut the line. But did a wild Dolphin REALLY ask a human being for help, and then respond to human gestures?

We called Simon Allen of Australia’s Murdoch University, who has closely studied dolphin behavior.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say the dolphin understood the come hither gesture but I think it’s not entirely unexpected from a large, intelligent, social animal to seek help,” says Allen.

But in New York, Diana Riess, who teaches psychology at Hunter College, and wrote “The Dolphin in the Mirror” says she believes it DID understand.

“They show self awareness of their body parts. They know it’s themselves in a mirror, we’ve done some of that research. Whether that’s what this dolphin is actually doing we can’t say for sure, but it sure looks like that to me,” says Riess.

Whatever the case, Simon Allen says don’t forget the other lesson here:

“This sort of thing happens all over the world everyday,” says Allen. “Dolphins, whales, and other intelligent, social animals are entangled in fishing gear just because like to eat something that tastes good on our plate.”

So I guess the least we can do is offer help when they ask.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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