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Best TED Talks about whales and dolphins (I)

an animal swimming in the water

Today we want to celebrate life and summer, so we are offering you a curated selection of TED Talks about dolphins and whales.


TEDxBeaconStreet, 2013

19:10 min | English subtitles

Attend to the whale song

“I had noticed that no one ever seems to be interested in saving a species unless they fall in love with it first”

“Because the oceans are downhill from everything on land, whatever can be moved by gravity or wind or water, ends up in the sea. […] And that makes the apex predators [whales and humans] the most heavily polluted animals in the whole food chain.”

“Thus, [due to breast feeding and the passing of contaminants to the newborn through milk] each new generation of mammals is more contaminated than the last – a process which, unless we find alternatives to these contaminants, may well bring marine mammals, like whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, walruses, sea otters and polar bears to extinction.”

“We chose sperm whales because they, like we, are apex predators, meaning that what is happening to the whales is happening to us.[…] We didn’t find one whale, anywhere, that was without pollution”

“It demonstrates what many people had suspected – that the contaminants humans are releasing to the world’s oceans can be found in wildlife that lives in the most remote areas of the planet.”


TEDxLoughborough, 2013

19:27 min | English subtitles

Rights for whales and dolphins, necessity, or exaggeration?

“A person is any being, no matter what their species, who has traits that imply a high level of intellectual and emotional sophistication.”

” ‘Are all humans persons?’, and ‘Are all persons humans?’ “

“Culture, in these creatures, is actually as important as some of the biological issues that we’ve been dealing with.”

“We can no longer look at whales and dolphins as just big stocks of animals that are out there.”

“We have to look into the eyes of these creatures and be able to understand what it means.”


TEDxBrussels, 2013

19:12 min | English subtitles

The dolphin in the mirror

“Here is a brain to be reckoned with. These are species that have no arms, they have no legs, but they’ve got big brains and they’ve evolved again separately from us 95 million years and she’s watching me and using my own behavior back.”


TEDxTotnes, 2015

16:55 min | English subtitles

When dolphins laugh

“I went to the Brighton dolphinarium. Very little impressed me in those days, but I remember looking into the eye of a dolphin there and getting a jolt that he was looking right back at me with the same level of understanding, at least, as I had of myself.”

“Dolphins have an EQ of 5.4, they have five times more brain capacity than they need to run a basic aquatic animal.”

“He [the dolphin] was using humor. […]HUmor is a very interesting subject. If you can tell a joke to someone, if you can make someone laugh, you’re instantly advertising that you’re quite intelligent, that you have empathy, you have social skills, and you can manipulate the internal reality of other people’s expectations.”


TEDxSantaBarbara, 2017

17:01 min | English subtitles

Whales without walls

“We can’t know what it’s like to be an orca, but what we do know is that they live in a community, always working together, whether for food, for fun, or for survival.”

“In the wild, when the younger are captured, it’s always the very young. They’re separated from their families. The sisters, the mothers, and the aunts can be heard keening for their offspring. Just like us.”

“So, what is it that we’re teaching our children in these kind of shows? That whales and dolphins are pets to be trained? Does this really give them an appreciation for these magnificent animals?”

“Like us, orca are at the top of the food chain, but unlike us, they eat what they kill. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves which of these species, human or whale, is the more advanced.”

“But the whales will still be in concrete tanks. These are accoustic animals, they’re used to living in a three-dimensional world. And in a tank their vocalizations reverberate back at them. It’s like living in a echo chamber. This would be like me, a visual animal, living in a room half the size of this stage, with eight-foot walls, all encased in mirrors looking back at me.”

“So, while we’ve always known how easy it is to capture a whale, what we learned is how hard it is to put one back.”


TEDxMarin, 2017

9:56 min | English subtitles

Deep dive: What we are learning from the language of whales

“[Sperm whales] They’re able to see better with sounds than we are able to see with our eyes.”

“Hmmm, what if we try free diving with whales? Maybe we could get close enough to them that way, that they would be able to encounter us, and start communicating with us.”

“It turns out that whales also have the mammalian dive reflexes. That’s how they’re able to dive down to 8000 feet, for 90 minutes at a time. We share those same things.”

“Whales don’t have a form of communication that’s more sophisticated than our own! But just consider a few things: the sperm whale’s brain is about six times the size of ours, OK? They’ve had it for 15 million years longer than we have had ours. We’ve had our current size brain around 200,000 years. It’s in many ways more complex and evolved. So, animals don’t grow big brains by accident, they grow them for a reason.”

“In the next ten years, the US alone is going to spend $100 million looking for signs of intelligent non-human life in the skies. But there’s already intelligent non-human life, and it’s here, in our planet, deep beneath the sea. It’s been trying to reach out to us for thousands of years, I think we should start talking back.”

You can also find them all in our YouTube channel, at Recomendamos player list, where we will be adding other people and organizations videos that we believe deserve to be watched, about whales and dolphins, about the sea and sea life, about La Palma, Canary Islands, and everything we cherish and work for. Of course, in our channel, we are going to upload our own videos too, about “La Isla Bonita” and all of our adventures sailing in her waters.

We offer you this selection in the hope of you grasping better, after watching it, why this magnificent sentient beings deserve to live in the wild (as all do), and, given the case you want to meet them in the flesh, choose to join a responsible dolphin and whale watching tour, always respectful.

Happy to have you on board!