Tag Archives | Dolphins

Scientists Conclusively Link BP Oil Spill with Unprecedented Dolphin Die-Off

Bottlenose dolphin ((Photo: Paco Lopez/flickr/cc)

Bottlenose dolphin (Photo: Paco Lopez/flickr/cc)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. To see more of Deirdre Fulton’s posts, go here.

Scientists have for the first time made a conclusive link between the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and an unprecedented dolphin die-off along the Gulf’s northern coast.

Bottlenose dolphins in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama experienced an “unusual mortality event” beginning in February 2010 and continuing into 2014, according to the study, written by a team of 22 researchers, including scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Audubon Nature Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and a number of marine laboratories nationwide.

By comparing tissue samples from dead dolphins found along the northern Gulf of Mexico—including 22 from Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, one of the most heavily oiled coastal areas in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster— with similar samples taken from dead dolphins found in the states that weren’t within the BP oil footprint, the scientists discovered that stranded and dead bottlenose dolphins within the spill range had lung and adrenal lesions consistent with petroleum product exposure.

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Dolphin Intelligence: Breaking the Communication Barrier Between Dolphins and Humans

It’s time for a conversation about breaking the communication barrier between dolphins and humans, says Joshua Foer writing at National Geographic:

Head trainer Teri Turner Bolton looks out at two young adult male dolphins, Hector and Han, whose beaks, or rostra, are poking above the water as they eagerly await a command. The bottlenose dolphins at the Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences (RIMS), a resort and research institution on an island off the coast of Honduras, are old pros at dolphin performance art. They’ve been trained to corkscrew through the air on command, skate backward across the surface of the water while standing upright on their tails, and wave their pectoral fins at the tourists who arrive several times a week on cruise ships.

Photo: Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences

Photo: Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences

But the scientists at RIMS are more interested in how the dolphins think than in what they can do.

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A Chat with Malcolm Brenner, Man Famous for Having Sex with a Dolphin

A few years back we published the anthology Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong. One of the more challenging contributions was an interview with Clive Grace, an admitted zoophile. However, Grace’s bestial acts were confined to dogs and horses. Malcolm Brenner, on the other hand, went in for dolphins and tells Jezebel all about it:

Malcolm Brenner is the only man on Earth to achieve international fame for having sex with a dolphin. A former investigative journalist who covered the American Southwest, he remains best known for his 1970’s love affair—mostly romantic, briefly sexual—with a bottlenose dolphin named Dolly. Their “courtship,” which Brenner sees as dolphin-initiated and also transcendently romantic, took place in a theme park in Florida, the state where Brenner, now 63, currently lives. He chronicled these events in his autobiographical novel Wet Goddess, and Brenner’s story is the subject of a new short documentary called Dolphin Lover.

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Researcher Recalls ‘Sensual’ Relationship With Dolphin, And Yes, It’s Exactly What You Think

"He really seems to like you, sir. I mean,he really, really likes you." PIC: USN (PD)

“He really seems to like you, sir. I mean,he really, really likes you.”

Sensual is one way to put it. Giving a handjob to a dolphin is another. Be sure to click through and read the rest of the story at The Observer. Just wash your hands, first.

For Lovatt, though, it often wasn’t these formal speech lessons that were the most productive. It was just being together which taught her the most about what made Peter tick. “When we had nothing to do was when we did the most,” she reflects. “He was very, very interested in my anatomy. If I was sitting here and my legs were in the water, he would come up and look at the back of my knee for a long time. He wanted to know how that thing worked and I was so charmed by it.”

Carl Sagan, one of the young astronomers at Green Bank, paid a visit to report back on progress to Frank Drake.

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Dolphin Translator Relays First Word

dolphinsCan we handle what dolphins have to tell us? CNET News reports:

Scientists at the Wild Dolphin Project (WDP) who have been developing a dolphin translator may have succeeded in getting their software to work.

WDP director Denise Herzing was swimming in the Caribbean with a pod of dolphins she has been tracking for 25 years, wearing a prototype of a dolphin translator called Cetacean Hearing and Telemetry (CHAT), developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Thad Starner, when one of the dolphin’s whistles was translated as the word “sargassum” — a type of seaweed.

Humans have for some time been communicating with dolphins on a rudimentary level. The animals are capable of responding appropriately to commands and learning to recognise symbols.

The whistle picked up by CHAT, translated into human speech, was not a whistle from the dolphins’ natural repertoire. Instead, Herzing and her team invented a series of whistles and ascribed them to certain things — one of which was sargassum — and trained the dolphins to repeat the whistles when they encountered those things.

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Dolphins May Use Pufferfish To Get High

It’s probably not true, but some think that footage from a new documentary captures a pod of dolphins using pufferfish venom to get high.

The BBC will be airing a cool new underwater documentary on Thursday called Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, where carefully disguised cameras were used to film the daily lives of everyone’s favorite marine mammals. But the most interesting detail seems to have been leaked on Sunday: during the documentary, some of the dolphins reportedly used a pufferfish to get stoned.

“Even the brightest humans have succumbed to the lure of drugs and, it seems, dolphins are no different,” said The Sunday Times. The article goes on to describe how the team got footage of dolphins gently harassing a pufferfish, which led to the dolphins entering “a trance-like state after apparently getting “high” on the toxin.”

Read more at Discover Magazine.

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A Plan To Have Humans Give Birth To Dolphins And Then Eat Them

Is this what will give your life meaning? In his project I Wanna Deliver A Dolphin, designer Ai Hasegawa envisions solving food shortages, the endangered species crisis, and our urge to reproduce by having us give birth to dolphins via synthetic placentas…and then consume their meat.
The struggle to raise a child in decent conditions is becoming harder due to gross overpopulation and an increasingly strained global environment. Would a woman consider incubating and giving birth to an endangered species such as a shark, tuna or dolphin? This project imagines a point in the future, where humans will help this species by the advanced technology of synthetic biology. A ‘dolp-human placenta’ that allows a human female to deliver a dolphin is created, and thus humans can become a surrogate mother to endangered species. Furthermore, gourmets would be able to enjoy the luxury of eating a rare animal: an animal made by their own body.
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Do Dolphins And Humans Share A Special Bond?

dolphinAre the dolphins trying to tell us something, if we would only listen? Via Aeon Magazine, Justin Gregg ponders:

The science makes one fact undeniably clear: wild dolphins of some species are noted for seeking out social encounters with humans. The phenomenon of lone sociable dolphins — for whom human contact appears to substitute for the company of their own kind — is documented extensively in the scientific literature. Among the better-known examples are Pita from Belize, Davina from England, Filippo from Italy, Tião from Brazil, and JoJo from Turks and Caicos.’

But should this kind of social contact also be considered friendly? There, the record is more ambiguous. Of the 29 well-studied dolphins just mentioned, 13 of them exhibited ‘misdirected sexual behaviour’. A number of these dolphins made a habit of abducting people — dragging them out to sea, preventing them from returning to shore, even pinning them to the seabed.

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Pregnant Couple Prepares For ‘Dolphin-Assisted’ Birth

p125228-Cozumel-Our_dolphin_friendsIs amongst dolphins the best way for an infant to emerge into the world? I can see this going horribly wrong. Via Fox News:

A pregnant woman and her husband have traveled to Hawaii where they plan on having a “dolphin-assisted birth,” a water delivery among dolphins. Heather and Adam Barrington, of South Carolina, are preparing for the July arrival of their first child through a series of prenatal and postnatal swims with a pod of dolphins at The Sirius Institute in Pohoa, Hawaii.

The Sirius Institute describes itself as a “a research consortium with the purpose of ‘dolphinizing’ the planet.” They recently set up the Dolphin Attended, Water, Natural and Gentle Birth Center (DAWN), due to what they claim is an increasing demand on their web site for people looking to give birth near dolphins. The Sirius Institute claims that giving birth with dolphins is part of an ancient native Hawaiian practice.

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India To Recognize Dolphins As “Non-Human Persons”

non-human persons

Are we moving beyond the human/animal binary? Via Environment News Service:

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to forbid the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country. In a policy statement released Friday, the ministry said:

“[Their] unusually high intelligence as compared to other animals means that dolphin should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose.”

The grassroots Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organization, FIAPO, was pleased with the decision. FIAPO spokesperson Puja Mitra called the decision “a huge victory for the dolphins!”

Ric O’Barry, director of the U.S.-based Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, said, “Not only has the Indian government spoken out against cruelty, they have contributed to an emerging and vital dialogue about the ways we think about dolphins – as thinking, feeling beings.”

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