Whale brains and cognition

Reading Charles Sibert’s wonderful article in yesterday’s Sunday NYT Magazine, I was reminded by my own encounter with an Orca on the north shore of San Juan Island close to twenty years ago. I had been told that if I showed up at the rocky outcropping around 10 in the morning, I’d run into a pod of the huge creatures face to face.

This was no exaggeration. Pretty much exactly on time, I was face-to-face with a huge intelligent eye gazing across the species barrier. It’s a moment I’ve never forgotten. Read the entire article. The end is the most moving.
So how smart are whales? I think that’s a very interesting question. Certainly the fact that they possess the spindle neurons that humans and the great apes also have makes the question neurobiologically relevant.