Dolphins – a Kindred Intelligence

Arion and the dolphin

The love affair between humans and dolphins has gone on for millennia, reaching back even into ancient legends. Countless stories recount how dolphins come to rescue people in danger (they even save other species like whales).

Fishermen have been known to develop relationships with dolphins, seeking their assistance herding fish in exchange for a portion of the catch. Military forces from several nations also utilize marine animals for a variety of activities.

Fishermen working with dolphins

Scientists engaged in researching these amazing animals observe that dolphins literally live on a different planet than ours – a blue planet of the seas. It is a three-dimensional water-world which requires heightened senses such as echo location which humans lack.

We’ve all heard of “dog-whisperers”, “horse-whisperers” and the advances made in communicating with monkeys.  Would-be dolphin whisperers are finding that it is much more difficult to build inter-species understanding with dolphins. Our worlds are so different, it is hard to find common ground that allows us to bridge the chasm. The draw, however, is that succeeding at this allows us to not only to interact with another intelligent species on this planet but also practice what it might be like to engage with an off-world ‘alien intelligence’.

Wild Dolphin Project CHAT device

In Pelagia, the relationship between Lorenzo and his dolphin friends Tazia and Lucca was inspired by the work of Dr. Denise Herzing and her Wild Dolphin Project. Dr. Herzing and her team have created a device called CHAT to enable humans and dolphins to interact (and, as in Pelagia, Dr. Herzing’s dolphins like to play with seaweed).

In the story of Pelagia, Lorenzo and his dolphins have developed a peer-like relationship where both sides benefit. Sadly, the scene of Lorenzo saving a calf entangled in fishing line is not an uncommon problem even today. The state of the seas in our time and both of our dependence on the ocean’s health are two of many common-ground reasons to develop rapport with this intelligent species whose home is the marine world.

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