Subject: Dolphin/Human Statement

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Mon, 17 Jul 1994 20:56:36

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Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 20:58:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: WHE_WILLIAM@flo.org
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Subject: Dolphin/Human Statement
 
From:	SMTP%"marine-l@upei.ca" 16-JUL-1994 21:41:35.20
To:	WHE_WILLIAM
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Subj:	RE: Cetacean migrations/inter-species communications
 
Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 22:40:20 -0300
Message-Id: <940716182702.610@MLML.CALSTATE.EDU>
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From: NORRIS@MLML.CALSTATE.EDU
To: whe_william@flo.org
Subject: RE: Cetacean migrations/inter-species communications
X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas
 
I think the main concern re: humans interacting with wild dolphins is that
these animals are "wild" i.e. they're purpose is not to provide entertainment
for tourist and those wishing to pursue human-dolphin interaction.  I am not
fully aware of the situation in Australia, but I know some of the wild
dolphins which interact with humans are being fed fish.  This is akin to bears
in Yellowstone Park being fed by tourists.  I doubt that curious
bears interacting with tourists (whether it be bears riding on people or people
riding on bears) would be considered by anyone a real form of " inter-species"
communication.  Although it wasn't evident at first, I think everyone now
realizes that feeding wild bears or any other wild animals is not a good thing.
 
So why all the hoopla about dolphins?
 
Dolphins obviously reperesent some mysteroius form of of freeedom, peaceful
intelligence, or what have you, for humans.  I think some of this may be real
but much is due to an unrealistic image which has been portrayed upon dolphins
by humans.  I have spent a little bit of time studying dolphins, alot of time
reading about them (mostly scientific literature), and a whole lot of time
observing them while doing other work/play on the water.  They're definitely
among the most curious and self aware animals in the water or land.  However
one must keep in mind that a dolphin's, like any other animal's, main priority
is to  survive and reproduce in a sometimes extremely hostile environment.  When
I say survive, I mean that they must find food, mates, safe places to rest,
look for predators, care for their young, -all that is necessary for an animal
to survive and reproduce in the wild.  Even an animal as marvelously adapted
for living in the ocean as a dolphin can have trouble overcoming these
obstacles - as is evident by the large number of animals with shark bites, or
washing up dead on beaches.  Therefore, it is probably unlikely that dolphins
would have much time or energy - even if they were interested - on less
important things such as "inter-species communication".  Besides, what could we
tell them about surviving in the ocean world that they don't already know or
could do better themselves?
 
The point is that the best way we can help these wild animals is to leave them
alone.  Better yet would be to study them and their environment - using methods
which are as non-invasive as possible-- so that we can better identify,
understand and minimize human impacts (including feeding and swimming with
them) to them and their habitat.
 
Anyone who is interested in interacting with dolphins ought to take up an
environmentally friendly ocean-activity like surfing or sailing.  You'll soon
find that while the dolphins sometimes display a brief interest in you, they
are usually too busy with their own activities to spend much time studying you.
Also, when dolphins perceive you as a normal part of their environment
(i.e. not a free source of food) they are much more likely to act " normally"
around you (generally ignoring you like thay do to most other marine mammals),
so you will get a better idea of what their life is really like.
 
--Live and let live
 
--	TOM NORRIS
        NORRIS@MLML.CALSTATE.EDU