Archives for posts with tag: dolphins

When I was a baby, I was kidnapped.

They arrived to our home unannounced. Mom stayed very close to me, positioning herself between the attackers and myself. She called on my sisters and brothers, all trying to defend me because I was the baby. One by one they pulled them away from the protective circle, hitting them with violence. Then, they reached mom. I was pressing my whole body to hers for safety, crying in terror, when a knife went through her heart. Her blood covered my face, and she was still calling me “be strong baby, be strong”. Even when the strangers grabbed me and I could not move, mom was fighting to protect me. I could hear her screaming in pain and fear, I could feel her blood dripping though my body. Then I heard mom gasping for breath when she said her last words “be strong”.

That was many years ago, but I still remember it as if it was yesterday. The horror of that day still plays in my head over and over. My kidnappers forced me to live in solitary confinement at first. Then, they took me to a different jail, and I’ve been forced to live with other prisoners, who like me, were kidnapped when young. Every day, we have to do circus tricks so the kidnappers will give us food.

If you see me smile, it’s not because I’m happy to see you. It’s because my face just looks this way. I’m a slave. You pay my kidnappers so you can enjoy seeing my tricks.

Neither you nor your children will learn anything noble from the suffering of a slave. Inside, my heart cries with the desperation of the captive. I cry for the freedom I lost, for my family, slaughtered. I would have invited you to my ocean home, and you would have met my family and learn from that experience. But to you, I’m just one more dolphin in a round swimming pool.

“The dolphin smile is nature’s greatest deception” Ric O’Barry. Photo credit: David B. Fleetham at

Type C killer whales in the Ross Sea. The eye ...

Type C killer whales in the Ross Sea. The eye patch slants forward. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If captive dolphins and killer whales (orcas) could talk to you, this is what they will tell you. Dolphins and orcas are highly intelligent and social beings. They live in their ocean home in family groups, they call each other by their own names, they have their own language, their own culture and society. We know this is true through numerous scientific studies.

Every time you go to a dolphin or orca show, you are validating the cruelty and slaughter of their capture. This is a crime against nature and against humanity itself.

The award winning film The Cove, demonstrated how the capture of wild dolphins for aquarium and swim with dolphin shows is linked to dolphin slaughter.

Even if the dolphin has been living in captivity for many years, time does not erase the horror of the crime . A mother dolphin will not give away her baby. She will fight to the death defending her baby. What will you do if a stranger tried to take away your child? you will give your life defending your baby. It’s the same for mother dolphins and orcas and their family group.

As a consumer, you can make a difference. Learn about wild dolphins, and don’t pay to see captive dolphins. Understand that captive dolphins are not just one more attraction, they are slaves kept in captivity against their will. Instead, join a whale-watching or a wild dolphin boat tour. Support the Clean Water Act, and initiatives to ensure our rivers and oceans have clean water, so the wild dolphins and whales will have a clean ocean to live on. Support marine conservation initiatives that promote sustainable fishing practices, so wild dolphins and whales will have food to eat.

Above all, be human.

Dissertation Notebook: Day 23

When I told my doctoral adviser, Professor Boomer, that I wanted to focus my dissertation on human behavior, he used the words “you’re crazy” and “good luck” on the same sentence. Professor Boomer is one of the few Elders who survived the Great Massacre. For that reason, he rates humans way below the lowly sea cucumbers. But even Professor Boomer, with his loud voice (he’s the loudest bicolor male I’ve ever heard in a spawning aggregation) could not argue with me that humans are a poorly studied zoological group and deserve the same scientific scrutiny we relish on other species.

Before I could begin with my behavioral observations, I gathered some basic background on humans. As usual, dolphins are a good source of information, but you have to be a bit careful with them. Dolphins, with their know-it-all attitude, will talk to you while at the same time keep playing with a seaweed, or copulating in front of you. There’s no serious academic decorum when it comes to dolphins.

Anyhow, dolphins said humans live on land and breathe air. Those who come into the ocean either stay at the surface, or go down with a big air bubble on their backs. What a weird species, an alien of a different world!.  Of course, dolphins also breathe air, but at least they live in my ocean world, and I can talk to them (if you can bypass the annoying high pitch whistles they use to tell jokes behind my back when they think I can’t hear them). The issue of communicating with humans might be a bit complicated. Dolphins claim they’ve tried to do so for centuries and it seems humans are idiots. I’m not sure if that’s a dolphin euphemism, (dolphins view any non-dolphin species as slightly idiotic ), but I must consider the possibility of conducting a full behavioral study on a species that is, at the very least, mentally impaired. A final limitation is the inability to sex humans in the field. Dolphins claim that, using their sound-based vision, they can tell apart male humans from female humans. But I don’t have such powers, so I’ll have to modify my experimental design accordingly.

Almost a month into my quest for knowledge, I discovered some basic facts about human behavior. Humans are very noisy. I can hear them coming to my reef way before I see them. Some of my colleagues go on hiding right away. As a behavioral scientist, I must remain inconspicuous to avoid disturbing the natural behavior of human visitors, but I don’t have the luxury to flee the site, otherwise, I’ll never get any science done!.

Humans are rude. They don’t follow grouper etiquette, and get right on your face. This is a typical image I see in my daily behavioral expeditions.

To add insult to injury, humans fart constantly. At least, that was my initial impression. I asked the dolphins about that, and after laughing to tears, they explained humans make small bubbles after they breath from the big air bubble on their backs. So what to me sounds like many farts, is actually part of the human breathing process. Humans are indeed weird!. Then the dolphins proceeded to demonstrate the difference between making bubbles, and letting a fart go. And in typical dolphin humor, swam around my reef cave farting all along. Show offs.

Yesterday, I met an interesting human. It was a bit less noisy than the others and it had a gentle disposition. I managed to get close enough for a good photograph. I think this could be Figure 1 for my dissertation.

The quest continues…

Grouper Goodall is a goliath grouper investigating human behavior as the main topic in her doctoral dissertation. Her doctoral adviser is world renowned ocean explorer Professor Boomer, Director of the Elder Council and survivor of the Great Massacre.

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