Self-awareness

Seeking Eye Contact: Fish Gaze Reveals Self-Awareness

For many years, I held a weekly feeding session for the resident reef sharks and their visitors in the study area where I observed their behaviour. If I had enough shark food, I would scatter crumbs into the water for the fish after the sharks had left. The fish knew this, so they had to wait, and while they were waiting, they were excited.

A cleaner wrasse interacts with its reflection in a mirror. A study, which suggests that fish might possess far higher cognitive powers than previously thought, has ignited an intense debate over how we assess the intelligence of animals

Do fish really possess higher cognitive powers?

Mirror self-recognition test

The standard method for testing whether an animal is self-aware is placing a mark on its body that cannot be viewed directly and then letting it have a look in a mirror. If the animal responds to its reflection and attempts to remove the mark it is considered evidence that the animal is self-aware.

Cognition and Self Awareness in Manta Rays

Although born in the landlocked country of Hungary in Budapest, Dr Csilla Ari fell in love with the sea as a child and has never looked back. Today, she is a research associate at the University of South Florida, where she strives to better understand the biology and behavior of manta rays. She has also set up the Manta Memories project, which aims to help end illegal manta ray fishing.

Sharks can see very well
Sharks can see very well

What are sharks aware of?

Sharks have a very different set of senses than we do, yet the eyesight of the free swimming species is good, so when they look at you, they are seeing you. But you may have the impression that they are using senses other than their eyes most often, and indeed, apart from our shared good eyesight, it is impossible for us to imagine how sharks experience their liquid realm.

Does this whale talk?

Excerpts from Current Biology, Volume 22, Issue 20, R860-R861, 23 October 2012

The whale lived among a group of dolphins and socialized with two female white whales. The whale was exposed to speech not only from humans at the surface -- it was present at times when divers used surface-to-diver communication equipment.