Herzing created an open-ended framework for communication, using sounds, symbols and props to interact with the dolphins. The goal was to create a shared, primitive language that would allow dolphins and humans to ask for props, such as balls or scarves.
Divers demonstrated the system by pressing keys on a large submerged keyboard. Other humans would throw them the corresponding prop. In addition to being labeled with a symbol, each key was paired with a whistle that dolphins could mimic. A dolphin could ask for a toy either by pushing the key with her nose, or whistling.
Herzing’s study is the first of its kind. No one has tried to establish two-way communication in the wild.
“This is an authentic way to approach this, she’s not imposing herself on them,” said Lori Marino, the Emory University biologist who, with Hunter College psychologist Diana Reiss, pioneered dolphin self-recognition studies. “She’s cultivated a relationship with these dolphins over a very long time and it’s entirely on their terms. I think this is the future of working with dolphins.”
Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.
Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.
The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.
Like many people in his generation, Louie Psihoyos was a landlubber who grew up watching “Flipper” and Jacques Cousteau adventures on television. After National Geographic magazine hired him straight out of college as a staff photographer, his admiration for the intelligence and beauty of dolphins, and for the oceans as an ecological system, grew as he learned how to dive and began to work underwater.
But none of that quite prepared him for the experience of making “The Cove,” an award-winning documentary about the clandestine slaughter of dolphins in Japan that opens Friday. The film is the first that Psihoyos — “rhymes with sequoias,” he says — has directed, and everything about it has been a challenge, from having to make the transition from still photography, to the subject matter itself, to the cloak-and-dagger techniques used to obtain images that range, as Psihoyos puts it, “from the heartbreakingly beautiful to the heartbreakingly sad.”
Patrick Farley is at it again with his latest attempt at an online serial: Delta Thrives, “an anti-dystopian view of the future.” It’s filled with psychedelic imagery and high tech sex toys. Farley’s digital art has come a long way. Most of it is stunning, but there are still some rough spots. Overall, nice art and a stimulating story.
Dolphins joined the ranks of humans and great apes by recognizing themselves in mirrors:
Dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors—one of the few mammals other than humans that have the ability to do so, according to a new study published this week.
Described in the May issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that dolphins not only can recognize themselves in a mirror but also can notice changes in their appearance.
U.S. navy dolphins will take part in a NATO exercise to find some of the 80,000 mines and other munitions rusting off Norway’s coast since Germany’s World War Two occupation, officials said on Friday.
The “Blue Game,” the name given to the exercise, will take place from April 23 to May 11. It follows a similar two-week exercise in the Baltic Sea last year in which 83 mines were cleared, according Rune Hausken, commander of the mine clearance diving team for south Norway.
“It will be the biggest mine clearing exercise off Norway ever,” Hausken said of the exercise to take place off the south coast of Norway.