World & Nation

Video: Is this dolphin ‘thanking’ fisherman who rescued it?

We humans sure like to anthropomorphize. You know, layer human emotions onto animals.

Like when you’re convinced your dog is trying to talk to you, or that your cat is plotting to overthrow the dog. (Maybe the dog is trying to snitch on the cat?)

A new video making the rounds has some in the blogosphere wondering whether the footage captures the moment that a young dolphin is actually trying to communicate with fishermen off the coast of Brazil — and thanking them for a rescue.

Watch the video and decide for yourself.


The incident reportedly took place earlier this month when a group of fishermen were enjoying the waters off the coast of Brazil. That’s when they spotted a juvenile dolphin ensnared by a plastic bag.

The fisherman used a net to scoop the dolphin from the waters. After a bit of struggling — by both the frightened dolphin and the fisherman — the dolphin is cut free. As the fisherman prepare to return the dolphin to the sea, they pause for a closer look. Or a photo opp.

And it appears that the dolphin is smiling that its plight is now over. (Yes, we know that dolphins have a natural curvature to their mouths. But still. It looks like the dolphin is smiling!)

But the key moment in the video comes when the dolphin is gently hoisted over the edge of the shallow boat and allowed to dive back in.


Then the dolphin spins around and uses its powerful tail to rear back and look directly at its rescuers.

In that split second, the little guy seems to squeak and squeal a word of thanks to its rescuers before it disappears forever. 

What do you think? Are we being silly, and layering human emotions on these creatures known for their sensitivity and intelligence?

Or do you think this amazing video really does capture the moment in which a grateful dolphin actually thanks its rescuers?


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