Dolphin Intelligence

by Kenneth W. LeVasseur


[Continued from Part 1]

Disease Control

Special care and precautions will have to be taken to prevent the spread of disease to and from feral dolphin populations. Because of the constant reintroduction of Third Phase dolphins into close proximity with wild populations, human participants and the Third Phase dolphins will require complete medical care at all times and especially prior to ocean release. Besides urine and fecal samples, cultures will be taken from all body orifices, skin piercing injuries and each dolphin's eyes and blowhole. The dolphin's eyes and blowhole secrete a fluid that spreads out and travels down the dolphin's body under hydrodynamic pressure and helps create laminar flow as it is trapped by the tiny dermal ridges traversing around the dolphin's body. When dolphins rub against each other they mix these body fluids and will transmit an diseases that the fluid carries. Sex and the raking seen in fighting also are sources for the transmission of microbes. Upon detection, the appropriate medical regimen will be administered and the dolphin will not be ocean released or allowed to associate close enough with other dolphins to transmit the infirmity until health is restored or the infection state is passed. Human participants, working in close association with the dolphins, such as swimmers and trainers, will be required to pass regular medical checks for disease. Members of the public will be restricted from coming close enough to the dolphins to transmit disease. Members of the public that want to pass this disease barrier will have to undergo the same medical regimen as program employees, and at their own expense, unless the are part of a subsidized program.

Developing an Existing Facility

Currently, the institutions holding dolphins in captivity are virtually unanimous in saying how happy the dolphins in their programs are. Most of these dolphins are regularly transported between training areas and show or display areas, as well as stretchered for medical exams, so relocation to an open ocean area can use existing infrastructure - albeit in a much more luxurious fashion. Idyllic environs, designed by those institutions of close human / dolphin interaction that have dolphin well being as a prime concern, would be perfect for the Third Phase programs. A maximum of eight months would be available, after commitment to the Third Phase concept, for this cooperative venture to work with a facility's dolphins prior to their release in the ocean. Then, for four months, these dolphins would have the ocean available to them. This period would allow for the lead time required to purchase and build any specialize equipment needed for the open ocean period. The eight months would also be utilized to start immersing the dolphins in a human whistled language program and develop social bonds between the program's swimmers and the dolphins. Aside from the initial eight month period used during introduction of the Third Phase, the eight month / four month type of program would generally not be used except where transportation to and from the ocean is particularly arduous or where climactic conditions dictate special considerations. Under these conditions it may be better to use two six month periods between man-made enclosure and the ocean. It would then be in the best interests of all concerned to make the transportation of dolphins luxurious for the dolphins, to keep them from leaving close human / dolphin interactions to avoid transportation.

To maintain the consistency of the premises used in this approach, there can be no additional dolphins captured for Third Phase programs. The program either works by liberating existing captive dolphins and then employing them in dolphin programs or it does not. Institutions participating in this approach must commit themselves totally to this end, otherwise it will not work or stand up to scrutiny by dolphin and animal protection groups. It is possible that dolphins, who have come ashore in strandings and require medical attention, can be offered the opportunity to participate in these programs, since they are undergoing the same trauma of human handling and captivity during treatment. Also, dolphins that are born in captivity would be able to participate in the Third Phase programs and could become excellent subjects for language training in both productive and receptive competencies. The Third Phase with its stress reducing and diet correcting elements, should increase birthrates among participating dolphins. These programs would make the question of dolphins as property moot because the recapture of departed dolphin would not fit into the Third Phase concept.


If the dolphins are not held in small, shallow tanks and enclosures or otherwise mistreated, the programs can provide plenty of incentive for the dolphins to return to tanks or pens at the end of the open ocean period. These incentives are also intriguing to humans and should increase the box office receipts of participating facilities and increase the funding of participating research institutions. Well designed programs could achieve these goals, and generate an income which maintains profitability at the same time. Dolphins socially enticed to interact with humans would not be stressfully captivated. Many species of dolphin are known to seek out human companionship, and because of this, humans have a peculiar interest in dolphins. This has formed the basis for the "draw" dolphin facilities have on the public. The Monkey Mia experience with the feral dolphins of Shark Bay, Western Australia is a unique example of how the open ocean part of the Third Phase concept might work. It should be remembered, though, that the Monkey Mia experience was initiated by the dolphins and as such is different. Unfortunately, the development that has occurred on the beach at Monkey Mia may stress the dolphins to the point that they may leave the area. Careful planning of Third Phase Facilities will be needed to revent this effect.


This paper has introduced a program that can address some of the most pressing environmental and animal protection concerns of recent history. The current level of development of science and technology allows the above program to succeed. There are many implementation aspects to the program that can further assure the success of such an effort but have not been included in this paper because they are of proprietary interest or would distract from the concepts introduced here. Many questions can be resolved with this approach and new areas of research rejuvenated. Among the most important pursuits is the possibility and goal of two-way communication with the mind in a non-human brain larger than the human brain. The philosophical implications of this approach will guide new approaches to how humans treat cetaceans, other animals and the environment.


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