The Human And Dolphin Relationship Essay, Research Paper
The Human and Dolphin Relationship
?The voice of the dolphin in the air is like that of the human in that they can pronounce vowels and combinations of vowels, but have difficulties with the consonants? (Aristotle internet). The communication between dolphins can only be described scientifically and historically. The true nature of how dolphins communicate with one another and possibly with other species is something only known to the dolphin. It is an evolving, complex mystery we are only now starting to grasp the significance of. ?Eventually it may be possible for humans to speak with other species. I have come to this conclusion after careful consideration of evidence gained through my research experiments with dolphins? (John Lilly internet). In this research paper evidence will be shown to prove that it is possible for dolphins and humans to communicate in a significant and meaningful way.
Since the beginning of recorded history, it has been said that man has had an interest in dolphins. People from many countries have met and interacted with them. It has been well documented that dolphins have saved lives, assisted sailors in navigating through storms, and have supported fisherman in their daily catch. The earliest incident of drowning that was saved by a dolphin that researchers know of is that of the Greek poet Arion, who was thrown into the sea by pirates. The dolphin carried him home to Greece on its back. This legend was recalled in Shakespeare?s Twelfth Night (Walther 39).
?It is noted that it was a dolphin who had found a wife for Neptune, the Sea god? (Walther 39). The Greek philosopher Plutrach states that through the help of a dolphin Telemachos, son of Odysseus, was saved from drowning. Pliny the elder, the Roman scholar, wrote about Hermias, a boy who often took rides on a dolphin?s back. One day while out with the dolphin, a storm hit and Hermias slipped off the dolphin?s back and drowned. The dolphin brought Hermias? body to the shore and beached himself over the grief of Hermias? death and died. It has been recorded that for twenty-four years a male dolphin guided every boat safely across the dangerous Cook Strait in New Zealand, day and night (Dolphin Synergy internet).
It is thought that the dolphin was an animal who years ago tried to live on land and didn?t like it. Scientists think that dolphins are descended from a four-legged hairy animal that returned to the sea, making them ?re-entrants? (Brooks 7-8). It has now been proven that sixty million years ago the dolphin?s ancestor was the cow. Cows are the distant cousins to the dolphins and the whales. Fossils have been found, showing the missing link with hooves on its flippers (Dolphins video).
The body of a dolphin can be described as sleek and smooth. Dolphins are extremely fast swimmers, and their blubbery flesh allows them to reach speeds over twenty-five miles per hour. Dolphins can be identified by blowholes on top their heads, fore-fins, and horizontal flukes. Unlike fish, dolphins are mammals and must come to the surface to breathe, about every five minutes. Some dolphins can hold their breath for up to thirty minutes while others can only hold it for twenty seconds. Their ears are small openings that are hardly noticeable, but are able to pick up sounds more than 150 feet away.
Dolphins vocalize underwater by using a series of clicks and whistles. Dolphins appear to have their own signature whistle, like their own name. Individuals recognize each other by their own voices, and can mimic sounds of other animals. They have no vocal cords, but are able to make sounds by moving air through the lungs with the blowhole closed underwater. Also dolphins have sonar, the ability to see underwater with sound (Dolphins video). It is well known that by using sonar dolphins can see through one another, getting a better understanding of who they are.
Dolphins are very sociable, playful, and friendly. Dolphins spend their lives with a pod, which is a close family/social group consisting of a few males, females and their offspring. They cooperate with each other when hunting or catching fish. They are constantly talking and communicating with each other, showing affection, and other emotions. A hurt or wounded dolphin is always taken care of by others, even at risks to their own lives (Brooks 5-6). Others in the group will take turns lifting the wounded to the surface for air, taking turns until it gets well again or until death.
During birth, the mother is always assisted by another female called an ?Auntie.? She is there to help fend off sharks and to push the calf directly to the surface for air the minute it is born. Other females gather around forming what is believed to be a protection circle, and is used as a defense against sharks and orcas. The mothers and their young will reside in the circle while the others leap out to butt the gills and heads of sharks, sometimes killing it.
Over 70% of the Earth?s surface are covered by ocean and there might be intelligence far beyond our own (Lilly internet). Dolphins have the highest brain capacity of any non-human animal, twice that of higher primates (Herman internet). The bottlenose dolphin?s brain is physically more folded than any other mammal, including humans. Its cerebral cortex, however, is only half as thick as humans, but thicker than a chimp?s. This is a sure sign of higher intelligence.
Ken Martin and Earth Trust Laboratory studies dolphin intelligence. He wants to see what dolphins see and what they reveal about themselves when they are not trained. Martin believes that dolphins have a higher intelligence and tried to prove it with research. He says that dolphins are always doing hydrodynamic tricks. They create air rings that is a matter of experimentation and complex play. This is an indication of an interested active brain and shows that dolphins have the capacity to learn.
To prove that dolphins are self-aware, Martin did a mark test. He put a zinc oxide mark on the dolphin?s side, and put up a one-way mirror in the observation tank window. This was done to see of the dolphin would notice the mark in their reflection and examine himself in the mirror. He immediately went to the mirror and moved around with the mark facing the mirror. When the dolphin saw himself in the mirror, his reaction less surprise than to a strange dolphin. The dolphin turns and shows his teeth to check the relation between himself and his mirror image. The dolphin usually brings objects to the mirror and plays with it, and is seemingly more self-aware when playing with the object in front of the mirror. Martin comments that this is not social behavior, and since dolphins don?t have hands to touch the mark, researchers need to require more experimentation to see if this behavior was social or not. Martin wanted to determine if they could watch TV before he did a test. Do they see images or actual pictures? The TV shows an attendant throwing fish into the water, as dolphins bite and squeal as they are being fed; and the dolphins see this as a representation of reality. Next, a TV with a highly reflective screen was used, the screen acting like a mirror when the TV was off. So the dolphin?s current behavior was similar to that of the dolphin on the TV screen. Martin turned the TV on to see how the dolphins would react to the TV?s images that were not similar to the dolphin?s current behavior. The dolphins could react differently to the images playing on the TV screen, and realize that it is now a mirror. If the dolphins were not self-aware when watching the playback, they would be biting back when the dolphin in the TV?s mouth was open. Research shows that they would not behave in such a manner when the dolphins are self-aware (Martin internet).
Dolphins have been known to use a variety of hunting techniques to catch fish. Fish kicking, the technique of hitting a fish with its tail, is a local custom among dolphins and appears to be a learned behavior rather than instinct. One interesting example involves two captive dolphins? intent upon capturing a moray eel from a rocky slit in the corner of their tank. One dolphin captures a scorpion fish and with the fish in its mouth it poked the eel?s rear end with the fish?s poisonous spine. The moray fled from its haven only to be captured by the second dolphin stationed at the opposite end of the hole (Walter internet). This example proves that dolphins can learn new techniques of hunting through experimentation, and also through to see what techniques are more successful.
Louis Herman, a dolphin language researcher, taught two dolphins artificial languages. One was taught an acoustical language made of computer-generated sounds, while the other was taught a language in a series of gestures. The signals of these languages represent objects, object modifiers, or actions. Neither the gestures nor the sounds resemble the object or relational terms to which they refer (Walter internet). The languages also use simple grammar rules, where the word order effects the meaning of the sentence; thus, showing the learned capacity to comprehend sentence structure. The dolphin that was taught the acoustical language was taught a straightforward left to right grammar; and the other dolphin was taught in the opposite manner, requiring it to view an entire gestured sequence before it can be interpreted correctly. Both dolphins have learned about fifty words, allowing more than a thousand different sentences.
In the past ten years language researchers, like Louis Herman and Ken Martin, have shown that dolphins have the cognitive skills to understand simple language, including concepts such as direction and basic rules governing the sequence of words. It is said that recently dolphins have started to ?talk? back (Chollar 52-53). It is has been definitely proven that dolphins are speaking to each other by means of local dialects that they learned during their childhood. Researchers still don?t know what they are saying but one fact is for sure; their language is able to carry meaning and abstract information and could even be more sophisticated and efficient than any human language except Chinese (Pryor internet).
Dolphins have been trained to entertain humans for thousands of years. Training takes about two to three years to complete, and are usually trained by using props. They can be trained to jump through hoops, flip, tow trainers around, and many more amazing tricks. Dolphins? memory capacity matches that of our own. They can follow extremely complicated directions, through both visual and auditory commands (Sea World internet).
Dolphins are always communicating with each other. They communicate with each other through beats of sound at high frequencies. Dolphins have their own signature whistle, which identifies them like a name. Dolphins can call each other?s name by imitating another?s whistle. These signature whistles are distinguished from the whistles of other dolphins by its distinctive frequency variation over time. Calves seem to develop their own signature whistles between two months and a year. These whistles remain unchanged for up to twelve years or through their whole life.
Psychologist James Ralston and computer specialist Humphrey Williams discovered that signature whistles can covey more than just a dolphin?s identity has discovered it. By comparing sonograms of the signature whistles during usual social activities and stressful situations, they found that although keeping its original configuration, a signature whistle might change in pitch and duration, relaying information about the emotional state of the dolphin (Walter internet). Dolphins appear to use whistles to maintain contact, when socializing and meeting other dolphin groups, and maybe to coordinate school activities, because whistles are usually heard when groups change an activity or direction.
In addition to using whistles, dolphins also use sonar, a form of echolocation that enables them to see far distances underwater. By making clicking sounds that travel through the water they are able to locate objects, and other animals. By listening carefully to the sounds that bounce back at them, the dolphins can detect objects that are too far away to be seen or things buried. Using their echolocation, they can see right through the sand and hunt fish with excellence.
Humans and dolphins have always held an extraordinary attraction in one another. For those who have encountered dolphins in the wild, many are left with a sense that they have shared a special connection/bond with them. Many encounters with dolphins are depended on for a way of life. For example, Australian Aboriginal tribes depend on dolphins to help them ? fish ?. The Aborigines would clap their hands under the water signaling the dolphins that they are ready for them to round up the school of fish. The dolphins round up the fish and drive them towards the shore so the Aborigines can catch them in their nets. Communications between humans and dolphins have gone on in ancient times. But the significance of this communication is that the dolphins do this for no rewarded in any way and are volunteering to come in and herd the fish (Nature video).
One of the most extraordinary accounts of a wild dolphin seeking human friendship is the story of OPO. OPO was orphaned on the New Zealand Opononi beach. She started approaching people in the water at the beach. She loved the children and would swim between their legs and allow them to play with her. She would even willingly swim and take them for rides on her back. Another great example of a human and dolphin relation ship is that of JoJo and Dean Bernelle. JoJo, an orphaned bottlenose dolphin, sought out the friendship of a human. So Bernelle and JoJo have had a ten-year relationship and they seemed to understand one another. The significance of this is that it was JoJo?s idea to seek human companionship with a human.
Another account of a dolphin and human communication is that of Robin Williams and Stubby. Stubby is a spotted dolphin that lived in the Bahamas. Williams swam with a group of spotted dolphins in the wild, and one member of the group, Stubby, left the group to swim with Williams. They swam together and enjoyed each other?s company, ?It?s like being in the presence of someone wise, someone who?s seen it all, who has seen years of life in the ocean, a lot of hard times and good times and survived it all.? (In the Wild video). Williams thought Stubby could detect his mood and emotions while they were swimming together. Williams?s encounter with the little dolphins reminded him of his son Cody, his active playing, his playful inquisitiveness, his child?s energy (In the Wild video). ?In a strange way I feel that for a moment with Stubby I communicated with an animal who chose to make contact? (Williams Dolphins video).
Another example of communication between humans and dolphins are in the experiments of Denise Hersing. She has attempted to learn how dolphins communicate in the wild. She swam with a group of wild dolphins and they accepted her into their group. She swam with them as a member of the group. She mimicked their body language (nods and turns) and they responded.
The previous paragraphs have been cited scientific research, experiments, and documented data that provide evidence to prove that it is possible for dolphins and humans to communicate in a significant and meaningful way. One piece of evidence is that of JoJo and Dean Bernelle where it was JoJo?s idea to seek Bernelle?s friendship for no advantage. Another example is the special bond of Stubby and Robin Williams, ?In a strange way I feel that for a moment with Stubby I communicated with an animal that chose to make contact for no reward.? Another example of meaningful communication is that of the Aborigines ?fishing? with the dolphins who chose to make the connection. Then the experience of Denise Hersing?s swim with the dolphins that had accepted her into their group, showed the relationship developed over time. Another is the story of OPO on the New Zealand Opononi beach where the young dolphin allowed children and adults to play with her. Finally, the results of the communication research done by Louis Herman. All of these examples of man and dolphin becoming ?friends? and working together for no advantage demonstrate that it is definitely possible for significant and meaningful communication.
John Lilly M.D. dreamed of inter-species communication between man and dolphin; now technology and psychology are finally catching up to make this vision a reality. Researchers like Lilly and Louis Herman, one-day hope to learn more about the dolphins? communication to reach this new beginning?how the possibility of inter-species communication may develop in the future.