The dictionary defines intelligence as: endowed with
the faculty of reason, alert, quick of mind etc. Whales as large as the Humpback cannot be kept in captivity, so we can only study them by observation from a distance. A pod of whales may approach three vessels, spend say twenty minutes with the first, will generally spend an equal amount of time with the other two, yet not return to any of the vessels when finished, regardless where those vessels position themselves.
Is that intelligence? When they ALL avoided areas of danger during the days of commercial whaling and were in obvious communication with each other, was that a display of intelligence? A whale will breach to signal to an approaching vessel its position, or attempt to communicate in some other way. Dolphins can learn to obey complicated commands when trained in captivity, but on many occasions they have shown amazing "reasoning" in their actions, when they met man in the own environment, such as assisting a drowning person, or guiding a vessel to a safe harbour. And then there is the story of Orcas assisting commercial whalers in the kill of another whale and to receive part of it as a reward. The answer to the question of intelligence is: we don't know.
"Hey! where did everybody go."
The brain of a Humpback whale is about seven times as large (in weight) as the human brain and we only use about ten or twelve percent of our capacity.
Maybe in time and only when we learn to communicate with these animals will we discover THEIR intelligence and perhaps give a new meaning to the word.
But how can we explain our intelligence to the whales? Like what we have done to this planet in such a short time? How would we justify the treatment of other human beings, like in Bosnia, Somalia, Angola and many other places in this world? Or the reasons for World Wars I and II? We humans, should not sit in judgment about other intelligence, at least until such time when we have cleaned up our own act.