Subject: Re: dolphins

Phil Clapham (
Fri, 15 Oct 1999 08:44:11 -0400


This is not an issue I know much about, I'm afraid.  It's pretty
controversial.  The dolphins are generally bottlenose (the standard
aquarium dolphin), and they're used for autistic kids and some other
individuals.  I think the benefit is supposed to be entirely
psychological, but I don't know if anyone has conducted a rigorous study
of this.  Bottlenose dolphins can be pretty aggressive, sometimes
sexually so (males at least).

The issue of how dolphins react depends in part on context.  Some
swim-with-dolphins programs (at least one I'm aware of) do things on the
dolphin's terms, i.e. they won't let people actively approach.  If the
animal wants to come over, great.  But with others it's a lot more
"invasive" of the dolphin's space.  Again, no studies that I know of
about the impact on the animals.

One organization that I THINK does this is Dolphin Research center in
Grassy Key, Florida.  I'm sure you can find them on the Web.  Among the
various swith-with outfits, they have one of the best reputations.

Phil Clapham

> Craig Stein wrote:
> Hi Phil. I am trying to dig up some answers regarding dolphins.   I
> know that some programs exist that use dolphins for therapy with
> humans. What species of dophins is generally used? What is it about
> the dolphins that is considered therapeutic? Are the findings
> hypothetical or conclusive? What type of human conditions are being
> treated? What results have occurred? Who is doing it and where?
> Also, in terms of behaviour, if dolphins are upset, what types of
> behaviour can they/do they exhibit?   Many thanks for your help. My
> email address is                        Craig


Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
Large Whale Biology Program
Northeast Fisheries Science Center
166 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543

tel (508) 495-2316
fax (508) 495-2066