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December 15, 2013 12:06 PM   Subscribe

Is there any reason to think dolphins and humans have a special relationship? Sure, but it might not be a friendly one
posted by the man of twists and turns (50 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is a group of british researchers that put a dolphin and its owner in a room together, and then had the owner leave while there was a stranger in the room.

All the dolphin did was kind of flap around on the ground.

Conclusion: DOLPHINS CANT LOVE YOU.
posted by cacofonie at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2013 [28 favorites]


Protip: don't try to stoke random wild dogs either.
posted by jaduncan at 12:24 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dolphins are apparently pretty awful and rapey. They are mean little bastards.
posted by Justinian at 12:25 PM on December 15, 2013


Not friendly toward humans? Well gosh. If so, I hold their intelligence in even higher esteem.
posted by anarch at 12:42 PM on December 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Protip: don't try to stoke random wild dogs either.

I can't imagine any animal would enjoy being force-fed coal, really.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:42 PM on December 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


Wild dragons might like it.
posted by Solomon at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sociable Rape Dolphins did a few good tracks in the 90s, I lost interest after they went 'dance'.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:58 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Protip: don't try to stoke random wild dogs either.

I can't imagine any animal would enjoy being force-fed coal, really.


WILD ANIMALS WILL LIKE WHAT I TELL 'EM TO LIKE


(besides, they'd be so logy from all that coal they wouldn't wanna do much.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 12:59 PM on December 15, 2013


The human floats on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why, dolphin, why?
posted by dhartung at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2013 [29 favorites]


Considering the direct and indirect damage we've done to dolphins, pure rage-fueled aggression toward humans would be as sure a sign of dolphin intelligence as could exist.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dolphins are really amazing to watch and some friends who have visited us in Honolulu end up going on a dolphin/whale watch. Some of the local operators take their kuleana (responsibility) seriously and avoid sleeping dolphins but other tours take advantage of those clear water sandy bays to stalk dolphins.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2013


Holy shit, they're using the Big Five personality test on dolphins? That is either completely awesome or hilariously misguided and I can't tell which.*

*This is true for most really good research programs in the early stages. 'Course, it's true for some of the really bad ones too...
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 1:26 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Considering the direct and indirect damage we've done to dolphins, pure rage-fueled aggression toward humans would be as sure a sign of dolphin intelligence as could exist.

Indeed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2013


OOPS sorry posted above --Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs (the Onion)
HONOLULU–In an announcement with grave implications for the primacy of the species of man, marine biologists at the Hawaii Oceanographic Institute reported Monday that dolphins, or family Delphinidae, have evolved opposable thumbs on their pectoral fins.
"I believe I speak for the entire human race when I say, 'Holy fuck,'" said Oceanographic Institute director Dr. James Aoki, noting that the dolphin has a cranial capacity 40 percent greater than that of humans. "That's it for us monkeys."
posted by dougzilla at 1:42 PM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My husband and I have had an ongoing argument (since we started dating) about dolphins sexually assaulting humans. I've maintained that it doesn't really happen, he's always said that it totally does. Well. I guess he wins THIS one.
posted by Aquifer at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh sure dolphin this dolphin that but form a lifelong bond with a manatee and suddenly everyone's all judgey
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


You never hear from the people that the dolphins didn’t save.

This is the perfect opening line for my urban teen dolphin serial killer romance series.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:00 PM on December 15, 2013 [30 favorites]


Metafilter: ‘misdirected sexual behaviour towards humans, buoys, and/or vessels’
posted by vorpal bunny at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I want to know is how the hell can dolphins tell which humans are male and which are female?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:09 PM on December 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


In 1994, the Brazilian dolphin Tião managed to send 28 people to hospital during his visits before eventually killing the swimmer João Paulo Moreira (who was reportedly drunk and possibly trying to restrain Tião, or maybe even attempting to force a cigarette into his blowhole).

Well, I guess I'll take that off my bucket list.
posted by vorpal bunny at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2013


Oh Christ don't let this idea - dolphins in swimming pools because "healing" - get traction or it is literally what will happen.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:38 PM on December 15, 2013


When I was a kid I've had dolphins (or porpoises, I can't remember which live in the Pacific off of SoCal) "shoulder drop" me while surfing or body surfing. Basically they duck under you or your board under the water and push you out of the wave so they can steal it for themselves. I swear I've seen them smiling while they do it, and heard them laughing at me afterwards.

They are, as noted, noticeably rapey in an interspecies way that we don't usually see from other wild animals.

Though, now that I think about it I've met some rapey domesticated dogs that'll hump anything, and I bet a number of primate species would be just as rapey given the chance, since they're none to do it to their own species.

What I want to know is how the hell can dolphins tell which humans are male and which are female?

Dolphins/porpoises and other echolocating cetaceans seem not only to be able to "see" through soft tissue and visualize it in three-dimensional ultrasound, but they may be able to "speak" and communicate those visualizations to other cetaceans. Basically, they can record and play back 3D ultrasound images as mimicked sounds.

It shouldn't be difficult for a dolphin or porpoise to "see" right through your swimsuit and note the presence or absence of dangly wobbly bits.

Plus there's a lot of scent communication in the water.


I never understood where people got this idea that we have a special bond with dolphins. They're apex predators, incredibly smart and also mischievous if not occasionally malicious. This may actually be the only real connection we have. If they had thumbs and knew how to make metal tools we might have had brutal competition for global domination as a species.
posted by loquacious at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


What I want to know is how the hell can dolphins tell which humans are male and which are female?

Ultrasound. It's kinda kinky, but it turns the dolphins on.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:08 PM on December 15, 2013


I'm a little hesitant to call dolphins "rapey" (and it's not really something to joke about). Dolphins are animals, they behave like animals, and should be regarded as animals. Instead of romanticism they deserve respect.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:10 PM on December 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


seconding loquacious. Anyone who's ever seen a pet bird get friendly with a hand knows that all sorts of animals are capable of bending our concepts of consent.
posted by es_de_bah at 3:36 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The lack of respect for other critters is one of my least favorite traits of homo sapiens sapiens. Generating respect for animals like dolphins is one of the few justifications for keeping them in captivity that I can stomach. See the power. See the intelligence. Leave em the heck alone. (Or watch respectfully from a distance.)
posted by susiswimmer at 3:37 PM on December 15, 2013


Dolphins know that dolphin-people are clingy and pathetic. It's off-putting.

Try avoiding dolphins. Then they're all over you.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


but dolphins had alignment: LG in the monster manual

why did you lie to me gary

why
posted by Sebmojo at 4:06 PM on December 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm a little hesitant to call dolphins "rapey" (and it's not really something to joke about). Dolphins are animals, they behave like animals, and should be regarded as animals. Instead of romanticism they deserve respect.

I'm not really joking about it, and if anything I'm making the opposite point - mainly that humans are just tool and language-using animals and we romanticize ourselves - and distance ourselves from other animals - too much.

If anything, we're all the more animalistic because we should know better, yet we're still pretty awful and animalistic anyway.
posted by loquacious at 4:28 PM on December 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


If dolphins are so smart, then why do they live in igloos?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:34 PM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, they're using the Big Five personality test on dolphins? That is either completely awesome or hilariously misguided and I can't tell which.*

Well, they totally bombed both the Meyers-Briggs and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and their Rorschachs were crap, but they scored really high for androgyny on the Bem Sex Role Inventory.

I swam with the dolphins at Sea World. Having trained and ridden horses, mules, and camels, I thought that working with the dolphin would be similar. Not so, very different vibe. Riding an elephant was somewhat akin, because you can't ever forget the elephant is so incredibly big and powerful, yet they feel as if they are attuned to people and acknowledge you. The dolphin was big and felt like one huge muscle. I could get the dolphin to do his tricks, which few of the other swimmers could do, and I "rode" him around the pool, but control over the dolphin seemed very much precarious, even for their trainer. Dolphins are aliens.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:35 PM on December 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


What I want to know is how the hell can dolphins tell which humans are male and which are female?

1. What loquacious said.

2. Why in the hell would you assume they would want to? You see, male bottlenose dolphins...[are] found to engage in extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality. Male pairs, or even trios, cooperate to sequester and herd individual females during the mating season. Most males are also members of second order alliances consisting of 4 to 14 males. Such relationships appear to be long lasting, with one known 7-member group still intact after 17 years.

In other words, bazinga.
posted by Mike Mongo at 4:43 PM on December 15, 2013


The lack of respect for other critters is one of my least favorite traits of homo sapiens sapiens.

It's not exactly unique to homo sapiens sapiens. I will leave the link to a monkey orally abusing a frog as an exercise for the reader.
posted by forgetful snow at 5:10 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That video is so awful. The poor frog obviously died.
posted by Justinian at 5:14 PM on December 15, 2013


My husband and I have had an ongoing argument (since we started dating) about dolphins sexually assaulting humans.

Pretty sure the bit about Carl Sagan's observations at John Lilly's dolphin research facility have been posted before (they're in at least one of his books) -- basically that male or female (but more often the latter) humans swimming with one dolphin in particular (as I recall) would eventually get, um, rubbed up on. This is related, via Wired, about John Mooallem, author of Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America:

And that led me to the story of the woman who lived with a dolphin.

There was a lab in St. Thomas dedicated to communicating with dolphins, which were presumed to be a higher intelligence. It was run by a former Navy neuroscientist; Carl Sagan liked to visit. In 1965, a woman named Margaret Howe decided that the best way to establish cross-species communication with a dolphin would be to move in with one—like a study-abroad immersion program. So she lived with a bottlenose named Peter for two and a half months in a specially built “flooded house.” There was a kitchenette, an office with a chair and a desk, and a cot—all in twenty-two inches of water. She spent every day patiently trying to teach Peter to say her name or count to five, and wore bright red lipstick so that Peter could better track the movements of her mouth. They also watched television. “No matter how long it takes,” Howe assured Lilly, “no matter how much work, this dolphin is going to learn to speak English.”

It didn’t go so well. Howe had imprisoned herself with a dolphin and was quickly crushed by loneliness and despair. (She also complained of chafing.) Peter was rambunctious and uncooperative, ramming her shins and prodding her with his constant erections. Howe wound up having to give the dolphin hand jobs, to calm him down.

posted by dhartung at 5:19 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not really joking about it

That's very nice loquacious, but "rapey" is internet slang and has all sorts of negative implications and connotations. To whit, it is a four-letter word.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:31 PM on December 15, 2013


First Lisa Frank, now this! All my dreams, dashed.
posted by limeonaire at 8:14 PM on December 15, 2013


Aw, anthropomorphicists are so cute when they cuddle with the other mammals.
posted by Colonel Panic at 8:49 PM on December 15, 2013


Four letter words are not forbidden on Metafilter. One for MeTa, p'haps.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:18 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that comment, dhartung. As I was reading the article, I was trying to remember exactly where I had heard about the 'flooded house' story, and was starting to believe it was some sort of weird 60s sci-fi fiction story someone had told me about a long time ago.

I'd be surprised if Sagan didn't mention it himself, but if aliens were trying to figure out Humans in general, I'd think they would be in a similar position that we are in regarding dolphins - there is so much individual variation in personality and habits, that there's not really a way to make a blanket statement about them that's reliable. It's not so much a problem of anthropomorphism clouding the data, it's simply a matter of all the variations that intelligent individual creatures that have complex social structures that end up wrecking the chance for a reliable general conclusion.
posted by chambers at 9:26 PM on December 15, 2013


"Thanks for all the hand jobs!"
posted by Chitownfats at 11:50 PM on December 15, 2013


I think you must mean "So long and thanks for all the handjobs!", surely.
posted by Justinian at 12:01 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So long and thanks for all the wanks"

i hate myself
posted by Sebmojo at 12:15 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This whole article feels kind of dumb.

Of course dolphins, as an entire class of animals, don't want to be abducted to go live with some goddamn massage therapist and give rich humans swimming therapy. Just the way most humans wouldn't want to be abducted and taken to a special cove far away from their family and friends to give therapy to rich dolphins.

Of course dolphins are sometimes friendly and sometimes violent. Just like people, or gorillas, or cats, or dogs.

Of course dolphins sometimes kill and rape. Just like people, or gorillas, or cats, or dogs.

Also, his wholesale dismissal of the "dolphins saved a human" meme seems a little overenthusiastic in its skepticism. Sure, dolphins don't save all the humans, but should we really dismiss so many stories just because it's not "in the scientific literature"? How would it get into the scientific literature? Would scientists have to be in the lifeguard chair on shore watching through binoculars, or ...?

Yes people get all treacly about their fantasies about the magical mystical dolphin and forget stories like the dolphins gang-raping each other and group-assassinating porpoises. But this article seems to miss the point: Dolphins are interesting because they appear to be very intelligent, capable of altruism, and capable of brutality. A lot like us.
posted by feets at 1:32 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Peter was rambunctious and uncooperative, ramming her shins and prodding her with his constant erections. Howe wound up having to give the dolphin hand jobs, to calm him down.

"If I poke this landwalker enough she'll touch me again!"
posted by jaduncan at 5:45 AM on December 16, 2013


As I was reading the article, I was trying to remember exactly where I had heard about the 'flooded house' story, and was starting to believe it was some sort of weird 60s sci-fi fiction story someone had told me about a long time ago.

Ted Mooney used, and expanded, the scenario (even naming the dolphin Peter) in his novel Easy Travel To Other Planets, which caused a minor sensation back in the 80's by depicting a human-dolphin hookup.
posted by newmoistness at 9:02 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dolphins are animals, they behave like animals, and should be regarded as animals.

B-but people are animals too.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:30 PM on December 16, 2013


B-but people are animals too.

No, humans are totally different! We live in complex social groups, use tools, and have names. No animal could do all that!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:52 PM on December 16, 2013


dhartung: "wound up having to give the dolphin hand jobs"

dhartung: "and wore bright red lipstick"

She was asking for it!!!
posted by TheLittlePrince at 10:18 PM on December 17, 2013


Plus there's a lot of scent communication in the water.

We did the swimming with dolphins thing in Tahiti and one of the rules was that women who were menstruating were not allowed to participate.

I can't begin to explain what a magical experience that was, but it's always been a little unsettling to think about that rule.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:27 AM on December 18, 2013


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