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In a recent study from the Dolphin Research Center and Dr. Stephanie King from the University of Western Australia, scientists found that bottlenose dolphins are capable of working together in an effort to collaborate with one another in hopes of receiving a reward. The dolphins cooperate with precise behavioral coordination that’s never before been demonstrated in nonhuman animals.
At the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys, researchers developed a task in which dolphins had to swim across a lagoon at different times yet press a button at the same time. This task required the dolphins to work together to achieve a common goal – in this case, it was fish and praise for pressing a button at the same time.
Researchers found that the dolphins’ behavior changed as they repeated the task. Even though they were signaled to swim at different times, the dolphins eventually learned to press their respective buttons within 370 milliseconds of each other.
The Dolphin Research Center was founded in 1984 as a nonprofit to provide a permanent home for dolphins, while simultaneously providing a research and education center. Bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions now reside at the Center, with over half of the Center’s residents having been born there and the remaining population having been rescued and deemed unreleasable by the government. The Center serves as a major source of dolphin research, focusing on cognition, behavior, and husbandry in the species.