There’s nothing on this Earth quite like a dolphin. From orcas to bottlenose, the entire family is regarded as being some of the most playful animals in the world. Perhaps it’s their intelligence and advanced social abilities that make them such a loved aquatic creature. Stories of them courageously saving humans from natural dangers in the water, to kissing cats, make it to Facebook feed headlines and are shared around the world.

Those who have encountered dolphins up-close in the wild have their own stories to tell. For those who are yet to, here are 10 reasons why dolphins are the kindest creatures in the ocean:

They seem to get on with every animal, except fish

A surprising friendship with a dog named Ben, who visits “Duggie” the dolphin every day – he dives down into the water from the pier, and swims with Duggie until he’s exhausted and the dolphin carries him back to shore – caught the attention of social media. This isn’t the only time either: Viral videos of dolphins striking up friendships with dogs, and kissing cats, have solidified their reputation as everyone’s best friends.

They play with whales

It’s not just landlubbers who enjoy the attention of playful dolphins. Biologists have recorded several instances of what appears to be wild humpback whales and bottlenose dolphins mutually engaging in playful roughhousing. It’s a gang-on-gang meet up, and the humpbacks were observed hoisting the dolphins out of the water and sliding them down their backs – all for fun.

They know when to ask for help

There have been many stories of dolphins approaching divers for help. Recently, off the coast of Hawaii, a group of divers were approached by a wild bottlenose dolphin that was tangled in a fishing line. The divers cut the line, allowing the dolphin to swim free. That the dolphins sought help from the divers is a testament to their amazing intelligence – and their trust in humans.

Dolphins in the middle of the school ©

Dolphins in the middle of a school ©

Sometimes they bring presents

According to a recent study, dolphins near a resort in Australia have been observed bringing gifts such as dead eels, tuna, squid and octopuses to wading humans on many occasions. It’s unclear as to why they do this, but one possibility could be that they view us as not so different from themselves.

They rescue other species

Step forth Moko the bottlenose dolphin, a creature who made headlines for rescuing two pygmy sperm whales in New Zealand. The two whales had repeatedly beached themselves, and after multiple unsuccessful attempts by coastguards to lead them to deeper water, Moko the dolphin appeared. The whales, who were getting quite distressed, seemed to instantly change their attitude as Moko started chattering to them. Eventually, they began to follow him away from the shore and to safety.

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They are prepared to learn new languages

Dolphins in captivity have been recorded speaking “whale” in their sleep. Due to being born in captivity, they only ever heard whale sounds as recordings and began repeating those noises. As well as being multilingual, they’re also very polite: Researchers at Karadug Nature Reserve, Crimea observed dolphins talking in clicks and whistles up to “five words” with one another; the other dolphin listened carefully to the speaker before responding.

In the wild, they’re always happy

From blowing bubble rings to leaping out of the water with glee, dolphins always put on a show for those who encounter them in the wild. From fin-kicking into sight of our divers on the UW360 Komodo dive, to leaping in huge gangs past our UW360 Expedition team in the Banda Sea.

Aiming high, a happy dolphin breaches in the ocean © Shutterstock

Aiming high, a happy dolphin leaps out of the water © Shutterstock

They have worked with humans to help each other thrive

Since ancient Roman times, dolphins and humans have worked together to catch fish. Today, in Brazil, local fishermen and dolphins have formed a partnership to catch their dinner. The dolphins drive schools of fish towards the lines of the fishermen and “signal” – by head and tail slaps – as to when and where the fishermen should throw their nets. It’s a synergy that has worked and benefitted both species.

Family and friendship is everything

In a dolphin pod, nobody gets left behind. Biologists studying dolphins off the coast of South Korea witnessed something incredible between members of a pod. A sick and injured member, who was struggling to keep afloat and breathe, was attended to by her group. Twelve dolphins swam close together and created a life raft to lift the injured comrade out of the water to breathe – and preceded to carry her along until out of sight.