Dolphin Gets an iPad

The fact that there is a dolphin using an iPad is perhaps less amazing than the surprise that Apple’s marketing department had nothing to do with it. Yes, Merlin the dolphin has an iPad, and he and his trainer are using it to better understand each other’s communication patterns. If successful, the Apple gadget may help break the dolphin-human language barrier.

Ever since the debut of the iPad, there have a plethora of cats, dogs, birds and mice playing with the Apple gadget. Though some, like the amazing cat Iggy, seem to demonstrate a level of self-awareness about the iPad, Merlin is the first mammal to use it as a learning tool.

The innovative program was the brainchild of dolphin researcher Jack Kassewitz of Speak Dolphin, an organization dedicated to unlocking the secrets of cetacean communication. Kassewitz explains:

The use of the iPad is part of our continuing search to find a suitable touchscreen technology which the dolphins can activate with the tip of their rostrums or beaks … We think that once the dolphins get the hang of the touchscreen, we can let them choose from a wide assortment of symbols to represent objects, actions and even emotions.

The researchers have found a way to waterproof the iPad and are now using it to help Merlin an animal that lives in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico to make associations between physical objects and digital representations of those objects. The next step will be to layer in verbs and prepositions, making the dream of interactive communication with the brainiest animals on the planet a true possibility.

More from MNN:
The best animal photos of the month
15 cute animals that could kill you
Lazarus species: 13 extinct animals found alive

Image Credit: Speak Dolphin

By Karl Burkart, MNN


Azaima A.
Azaima A3 years ago

Hope this dolphin is free and studies of his own volition.

Maryann Birdsall
Maryann Birdsall3 years ago

Not cute, not funny and in poor taste, anyone who exploits animals for money is a mental case and so are the people visiting captive cetaceans, they belong in the Ocean, they are NOT here for our entertainment! give them the love and respect they deserve and stop lining the pockets of the Captive Industry such as SeaWorld and keeping the Dolphin slaughters in Taiji Japan going every season.. every time a Marine Park or Aquarium needs a new Dolphin, 17 have to die!

LMj Sunshine

Good article, thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Good article, thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Good article, thank you.

Lisa D'arcangelis
Lisa Plunkett4 years ago

Wow... that's pretty cool! Yay Merlin!

Felicity G.
Felicity G4 years ago

Wow! Go Dolphins! =)

Addis W.
Addis W.4 years ago

Can't help but think of all the dolphins being caught in nets, their environment polluted with chemicals, oil, gas, plastic etc. Will they learn how to communicate in time to tell us they are dying like the land animals? Ah well. It's still a fascinating occurrence and hope to hear more soon.


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

How will the dolphin use it?

Lidia E Feliciano
Lidia E F6 years ago

Dolphins are beautiful and loving.I had a beautiful blue crystal dolpin,but it broke.:(