Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dolphins and Humans

The first time in my life I saw dolphins was at the Dolphinarium on the beachfront of the city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Dolphinarium with its big stadium, large dolphin pool with underwater viewing arena, and the performing bottle nose dolphins (the most common dolphin species) - made a lasting impression on me.

The dolphin daily show at the Dolphinarium ( part of the Aquarium housed in the great Bayworld Oceanarium complex) , was a very popular attraction amongst local and international visitors. People, and especially children, were fascinated by the beauty, and grace of the dolphins's acrobatic jumps, flips, breaches , tail waving etc..

It's amusing to know that these performing creatures sometimes have to be put on diet. Despite the fact that they excercise a lot and display great energy in their acrobatics, if they overeat they develop fat stomachs which affect their abilities in their aquatic performance. So, no fatty mackerel for you guys, only white, lean fish.

(It's a bit like in humans; exercising is helpful in maintaining normal weight, in preventing weight gain, but if you're fat, you'll first have to do something about your food intake, excercing alone won't make you slim).

Dolphins , like humans, recognize themselves in the mirror - sign of self-awareness and that's great! Well, they do have what to see in the mirror: cute, friendly faces and an intelligent look.

Speaking of intelligence, dolphins are considered the most intelligent animals and this trait is very appealing to humans who make use of it and interract with dolphins in various fields: medical (therapeutic swimming of dolphins with handicapped children and adults) , military (dolphins are trained to locate sea mines by producing sounds and listening to their echo), fishing ( dolphins cooperate with fishermen by driving fish into their nets), rescue (dolphins can save people from drowning by raising them to surface). Dolphins adapt well to human companionship and are easily trained to perform tasks, provided the trainer shows them respect.

Relationship between mother dolphin -baby dolphin and that among grown-up dolphins seems similar to relarionship in humans.

Baby dolphins suck warm milk from their mother's mammal glands; they keep close to their mother who protects them and teaches them skills to get their food. How sweet!
As for dolphins in general they appear to be quite social creatures, they're seen ganging together like humans.

Here's a lovely 'dolphin' poem by Horace Dobbs, I've found on the Web:

Pushing through green waters/ Symbol of joy
You leap from the depts /To touch the sky
Scattering spray/Like handful of jewels
Not caged by union rules/unfettered by sales targets
No trains or planes to catch/ Your time is set by the flow
of the sea's tides
You give us images of ecstasy/That we lock away
Behind the doors of memory /For quiet moments
When released from our possessions/ We dream of a freedom
like yours
[Dolphins and Man...equals?]


  1. dolphins look in mirrors and ask themselves "does this mackerel make me look fat?"

  2. I have seen them in the wild and also in a show such as the one you spoke about. I have heard of studys on the sounds they make indicating they are talking to one another and I am sure they do. Great story. Peace

  3. I enjoyed the video, it reminded me of taking my children to Sea World in California. We were fairly high in the seating, but those sitting in the first few rows ran the risk of friendly soakings from dolphin tails!

  4. What a wonderful post. I have always been intrigued by dolphins and whales. One day I want to go on a whale watching boat. They say the dolphins swim along side the boats. I would love to see them in their natural habitat!

  5. Very interesting post. I've always found dolphins fascinating.

  6. DUTA, you have an award to pick up over by me.

    until next time... nel

  7. Dolphins are amazing,they are my favorite.We have one in Dingle bay that has decided to stay there,you can swim with him/her.
    Many disabled children have been helped by swimming with the dolphin,I think it is wonderful.I have not done this yet but would like to go.

  8. Thank you Duta,

    I love dolphins and enjoy watching them play. When Andrew was two we took him to swim with them.

    Earlier this year scientists said that they should be treated as "non-human persons". After all Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans. This designation will help protect them.

  9. Dolphins are really fascinating creatures. Very smart and friendly. I hope they get well-taken care of.

  10. Cheri Pryor,

    I suppose so. It's self-recognition known to be the capacity of humans and great apes only.
    Thanks for stopping by.

    Lady Di Tn,

    Indeed, so. Dolphins can communicate by sounds and by body language. The sounds they produce resemble: clicks, whistles, moans, squeaks, trills, grunts.


    Yes, dolphins do lots of things with their tails , even... walking on them. Children are delighted by all the tricks of these creatures and probably don't mind to get "a friendly soaking".


    Your information is correct. Dolphins do swim alongside boats; that's because of their curiosity; when they hear the noise of a boat, they feel the need to "investigate" and will follow the boat for a while. Fisherman complain that the dolphins swim alongside fishing boats in order to steal fish.

    Janie B,

    Thank you. Dolphins fascinate both children and adults through their intelligence, and incredible curiosity. However, we shouldn't ignore the fact that they are wild animals , and so, in certain instances (human provocation) they could harm humans.


    I'm flattered and feel honored by your gesture. Thanks a lot for the award.

  11. Perhaps more inteligent than dolphins are crows and octopus. Will be amazed when you will find that crows use 3 kind of different tools in order to procure food.
    However, it is easier to communicate with a dolphin that communicate with a crow or an octopus. But this does't mean that they are not inteligent.

    By the way: first time I saw dolphins was in 2008, at Constanta - Romania.

  12. Beautiful post and info Duta. I love dolphins.
    My wishes that they will not be endangered.

  13. Interesting. I have always admired dolphins and got the chance to see them perform, when I was on holiday in USA. I hadn't realised they were so self aware, yet if they are intelligent, then it makes sense. I feel humbled.

    Great post DUTA! :0)

  14. matron,

    Yes, I know, he's called Funji and he's considered quite an exhibitionist who dances and jumps with every boat. I understand he's old, so you better hurry to swim with him.


    I'm trying to picture to myself your two year old boy swimming with dolphins. How sweet! They are playful, friendly creatures, and their intelligence is indeed second to humans' intelligence.


    It's known that the key to interraction with dolphins is respect and good care from humans in general and from trainers in particular.


    Maybe you're right about crows and octopus. Scientists should check this out. Meanwhile, it says on the internet that dolphins are the most intelligent animals.


    Thank you. Your wishes are relevant as humans present a real danger to dolphins; they sometimes kill dolphins.

    Sharon McPherson: Author,
    Hi Sharon, Thanks for stopping by.
    Yes, many saw the dolphins perform, and yet knew nothing about the intelligence and self-awareness of these marine animals.

  15. DUTA:

    I just like these adorable creatures. They always fascinate me. I like the way you have kept different species side by side: man and dolphins.

    Joy always,

  16. Beautiful post, Duta :) I love dolphins. Dobbs' description of them as a "symbol of joy"...also so very true.
    When I lived in Hawaii I used to swim alongside them. I would be tumbling in the whitewater of a wave body surfing and would often turn to see a dolphin cruising by my side. You can't help but feel joy when that happens! Beautiful!

  17. I so enjoyed this post and the video. I love dolphins and would so love to see them in "action" one day. There is just something special about them.

  18. Susan Deborah,

    'aorable' is probably the right word for these mammals.
    Thank you for visiting and have a joyful week!

    The Chick Geek,

    Dolphins could be a wonderful companion for you as you are a joyful, friendly lady much like them. So you lived in Hawai, lucky you?!


    Thank you Cheryl. I'm sure there could be a lovely interaction between you and the dolphin as there seems to be something special about both of you.

  19. I've seen dolphins at sea world. I love to watch them play.

  20. I'd love to see dolphins in the wild. They are such joyful creatures. What a sweet tribute, Duta!

  21. Phivos Nicolaides,

    smart, indeed. Flipper is a bottle nose dolphin of a TV program with the same name.
    The theme song says: " They call him Flipper, Flipper faster than lightning/ No one you see is smarter than he".


    Welcome to my little blog! Thanks for the comment.


    Dolphins are lovely creatures, and yet wild ones. We, humans should be careful not to provoke them, so that they don't get agressive.

  22. I have always loved Dolphins.
    I guess they do not have enough space to move as they wish, so they get a bit fatty sometimes. :D
    And they have such cute 'faces'!!!

    And though I wish I could see one in real Life sometimes, I am not much for Dolphin shows.
    It might be beautiful to watch, yet it feels forced to me...

  23. Great post and thanks for sharing the video. I love watching dolphins, but I'm keen to see a whale, too. Never seen one in my life. I love your analysis into the relationships amongst dolphins and their remarkable intelligence.

  24. Fascinating. I guess that's the downside of being able to recognize oneself in a mirror--seeing the stomach bulge and having to diet! :)

  25. PinkPanthress,

    Well, a show is a show; the dolphins get trained before it to perform acrobatics. I guess, in real life, they behave somewhat differently. You're right about their faces: cute and friendly.

    Culture Served Raw,

    A whale - that reminds me of course, of Moby Dick; I would also like to see one.
    Thanks for your kind words.


    How true! The mirror can be very cruel both to humans and to dolphins.
    Thank you for visiting and for your witty comment.

  26. I love this post, dolphins are so amazing. My husband and kids all surf & so many times when they are out in the water, a dolphin will ride a wave with them.

    It scares them at first (wondering if it's a shark) and then when they realize it's a dolphin surfing beside them, they are so excited.

    What truly wonderful creatures!

    I hope you have a great weekend...thanks for stopping by my blog!

  27. Ballet News,

    Thank you. You're always welcome to read my posts.

    Lisa Petrarca,

    It sounds so exciting, your husband and kids surfing and then a dolphin joining them and surfing behind them!
    Thank you for your lovely comment.

  28. "Dolphins , like humans, recognize themselves in the mirror - sign of self-awareness and that's great!"

    Now, I've often wondered how it is that we actually KNOW this? ;)

  29. Susannah,

    Good question. It's not that WE actually know that; we are told by scientists that this is the case, and we believe them. I suppose those who work daily with dolphins (trainers) are probably aware of the truth.