Cetacea Skills

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It's amazing that some of our friends in the animal world are capable of being trained to perform tricks for entertainment or learn skills to help aid us in our life-or even their own. Man's best friend, Jane Goodall's chimpanzees, and even Shamu all have acquired and learned skills to use for one of these purposes.

For this blog post, it's all about cetaceans and how they learn. Cetaceans include marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises. They're noted for their high intelligence, which also makes them excellent learners! Through positive reinforcement
these flippered friends quickly learn tricks like the one seen in this
Shamu performance.

Training is done through the use of hand signals and targets and when the behavior is done correctly, the animal is rewarded with food, attention and toys. If the animal doesn't do exactly what it was told, they simply receive a neutral response and time to think about the task again. Through operant conditioning any type of behavior can be easily learned.


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This is a really cool post. I think it's amazing how we are able to train animals to perform certain tasks. Are these types of animals able to be trained more quickly than others? I was just wondering, but overall, it was a good post.

This is so cool. It just goes to show how amazing animals are. Can you train everything the way you can train whales and dolphins?

It's so crazy to think about what operant conditioning can do! Shamu's performance at sea world is so impressive. These mammals are all so intelligent. I feel like we don't always give them the credit they deserve. Even if we train them they still had to have something to learn. I really enjoyed reading your post, and the picture is sweet!

The picture really captured my attention not only because I've "swam with dolphins" before, but also because I love dolphins! It's amazing how animals can learn so many tricks through operant conditioning and I think their intelligence is underestimated by some people. The picture and the video were both great supporting evidence to your post.

This was a very good blog post. I always was curious as to how people could train these animals to do this amazing, gravity defying tricks. But after learning about the different learning techniques in PSY 1001 and through this article it all makes sense now. I really liked the visual aid you provided in both a picture and video. Very well done.

I liked your blog! It is really fascinating how different types of psych are used in the real world. I've always wondered how they trained dolphins and other animals like that.

I've always loved going to the zoo as a kid because the dolphin tricks were amazing. It's so cool to think that through the simple rewards and punishments of operant conditioning, we can train them to do extraordinary things. Very nice topic!

It is amazing how broad this learning method is across species....or maybe it isn't. While not exactly the same our components do follow a similar mold. I never realized that it was this effective. It would be interesting to know how persistent the reinforcement the conditioning has to be to be as well choreographed as some shows are. The animals live in a small environment and are exposed, I assume, to this conditioning most of the time they are with the trainers. If this wasn't their daily activity would they be able to be this precise. I guess my question is how much time per total duration on conditioning needs to be reached for such strong and reliable responses?

I have been lucky enough to visit seaworld a few times, and the things that these trainers train their animals to do is unbelievable! They even seem to have their own personalities! The first time I went I was not overly excited, but that instantly changed. The things that these animals can be trained to do is amazing. I even learned that dolphins were once used by the navy to detect mines underwater, and signal where they were. It's unbelievable. But this was a very interesting article, nice work.

When I was younger I stared in amazement during shows in seaworld with dolphins and shamu. Clearly, these animals are extremely intelligent. As a kid, I wondered how their trainers taught them how to perform such tricks. Thanks to your post, I have learned that this is through operant conditioning. A very entertaining topic!

The tricks that these animals are trained to perform are quite impressive! It is pretty incredible that these tasks can be taught to the animals, not say that they are unintelligent, but to be able to convey such precise directions is a feat for both animal and trainer. Yet another example of the power of operant conditioning. This makes me wonder if it easier or harder to train animals of high or low intelligence levels through operant conditioning. Would a smarter animal figure out the system more quickly or would a less intelligent animals be drawn in by the conditioning easier? An interesting question on a great topic, nice post!

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This page contains a single entry by lega0053 published on February 26, 2012 10:24 PM.

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