An Occupied World: The Dolphin
By Hwaa Irfan
One of the wonderful features of where we live are the different songs that are sung all day by birds amongst the sound of rustling trees. When almost everybody is unconsciously struggling with the demands brought upon them by the universal forces at play, to return home to hear only birds, trees, and the smell of nature, is a precious gift that helps to re-calibrate one’s center of gravity.
I cannot say when it began, but not long after I updated the background of my blog with animated dolphins – one bird in particular (the Hoopoes has been sitting on my window sill out of sight, calling. As one listens I became aware that its song reminded me of the sound of dolphins chattering away. After sharing the experience, it became apparent that I was not the only one who heard dolphins!
Everytime I heard this bird/birds, that is what I heard, the sound of dolphins… not long after I came across the following:
“Stranded dolphins in Cape Cod baffle scientists”
More reports were to follow.
I came cross an ornithological blog whereby a women also heard dolphins on a farm in North Wales!
Let’s take a look at this creature many of us have never seen with our own eyes!
Dolphins are mammals related to whales and porpoises, reknowned for being human-friendly, though the habits of humans are not so dolphin friendly. Biologically, they are toothed whales ot Odontoceti of the Delphinidae family of the animal kingdom. There are over 40 species of dolphins (36 ocean species,and 5 river species) exhibiting the variety in their uniqueness,with the largest being the distinctive Orca.
Their skin is delicate, despite their size, and can be damaged easily by rough surfaces, and with a bottlenosed dolphin for example, the outer layer of the skin sheds and renews every two hours. Their skin is highly sensitive to touch with bundles of nerve endings in their eyes, snout, lower jaw, melon, and blowhole. Dolphins like to play, and touch is an important part of that play.
Each has distinctive fins, which stabilizies them, and helps to regulate their body heat, which is at the same level of humans is approximately, 97.7 degrees F (36.5 degrees C). The smoothness of their skin, hairlessness, and the fact that their skin possesses no glands all contributes to the great speed they can muster up traveling in the waters.
The retina of their eyes are sensitive enough to allow them to see well both above and below water. Their eyes are protected from sea water by mucus that secretes from the corner of their eyes. Their ears, invisible to us, is locate just behind their eyes.
Despite being sea mammals, dolphins do not have nostrils, and cannot breathe automatically/instinctually. They have to come up for air every 15 -20 seconds to clear their blowholes. The time that dolphins do spend under water involves slowly dowing their heart rate, thus controling the blood flow. They can only breathe underwater for up to 15 minutes as they cannot breathe under water, but they can dive up to 1000 feet. In fact, dolphins have to be conscious to breathe, so they can never really fall into a deep sleep. This mean sleeping for them involves swimming slowly, and coming to the surface frequently to breathe, or resting on the surface with the blowhole exposed, or resting at the bottom of shallow water, and coming to the surface frequently to breathe.
When it comes to traveling, several pods can travel together, which might create some aggressive behavior between competing males. This competitiveness is less observed between the Spinner and the Spotted dolphins which can travel together without competing for food. This is probably because Spinner dolphins feed on smaller creatures, in deep water at night, whilst Spotted dolphins feed on larger creatures near the surface of the waters. But when it comes to speed, try and match that of the Orca, which can travel up to 100 miles daily.
Like whales, they navigate their way through echolation, and find their food in the same manner – they have very little sense of smell.
The 100 teeth they have is not involved in their process of eating, but is used to catch prey, as they swallow their fish whole. They tend to do their feeding in, and live on fish and squid. They have two stomachs, one for storing food, and the other for digesting food, which would be handy for some humans!
Some dolphins can live longer than whales up to 50 years of age (in the wild), but the average age is 17.
Like whales they live in small communities of up to 12 individuals referred to as pods, though pods much larger re not uncommon. As dolphins have demonstrated with humans, they can make life lasting bonds, . They will support their sick, and dying members which belong to their pods, which many a drowning sailor has benefited, when their lives too have been saved by dolphins..
Off the coast of Mauretania, the bottlenosed helps the fisherment to herd mullet into their fishing nets. This form of cooperation also benefits those bottlenosed as they get to increase their catch from the unwanted fish thrown overside by the fishermen.
The male whales are larger than the females. The females become sexually active at 8 years of age, as the males compete for the females, which is much earlier than whales at 10-15 years old.
Curiously, of the 120 adult dolphins studied in Shark Bay, Australia, a gang mentality was found. Organized in social groups of:
- Two or three males work together to herd a female for mating
- Cooperate to protect their females from other groups
- when members from group #2 form a relationship with a male from another group, unlike the females.
The nature of female relations differs drastically than the males, as they can change their friendships based on reproductive status. For instance, the matriarchal family structure of an Orca (an endangered specie), can consist of 20 members, that in turn has several generations traveling together – they breed with other pods which helps to avoid inbreeding. While male dolphins work collectively attracting and keeping the females, the females working collectively in the raising, and protection of their calves, and the elderly within the pods that form nurseries, and those between calfhood and adulthood, have pods of their own which consists of both genders – the members of this kind of pod is sexually inactive.
A mature female will give birth every 2 – 3 years like the whale, a marathon for us humans. For an Orca it works out at every 3- 10 years. They can give birth at any time of the year, but following the rhythm of nature, birthing generally takes place in the Spring. Unlike other mammals, baby dolphins are born tail first (though head first is not uncommon), eyes open, and senses sharp, which is about the time when the process of individuation starts in humans, but not enough to allow for independence. The mother helps the calf to the surface of the water to take its first breath, then a kind of dance ensues around the mother and her new born. The cubs weigh up to 25- to 40-pounds at birth, and can be as long as 3 feet. It only takes the first few weeks of life for a cub to double in size from nursing on its mother’s milk. The milk is rich in fat and protein, but lacks lactose. Mothers will nurse their offspring for up to 3 years, and their cubs are weaned at 12 – 18 months although the mother will stay with her calf for up to 8 years.
Much interest and research over the years have taken place because of the way in which dolphins communicate.
Communication takes the form of sounds and whistles squeaks, moans, trills and clicks that emanate from their blowholes. A whistle usually raises the alarm for help, but whistles are unique to each dolphin, and can be a part of the a social etiquette whereby a whistle contain information about the identity of the whistler. However, the danger of ‘intepreting’ dolphin communication as well as lifestyle is defining dolphin communication in human terms!
Echolocation is the ability to “see” with their ears by listening for echoes. Dolphins echolocate using a series of clicks which posesses various frequencies (sonar). The clicks bounces off objects and the returning sound wave registers on their foreheads and lower jaws from which distance, size and shape can be detected. The frequencies ranges from 0.25 to 200 kHz. The higher frequencies (which slows down in water) are used for echoloation and the lower frequencies, which moves at great distances in water) are for communication, orientation, and navigation. The pattern and the pitch of the sounds made are distinctive, which is helps a lost calf to find its mother.
Water communicates sound much more efficiently than air at 1.5 km/sec, i.e. 4.5 times faster than sound traveling through air, so what better way to transmit the primordial sound that the sounds of the dolphin is associated with on a planet that is 70% water. Primordial sounds connect with the deeper instinctual nature, thus the human subconscious, but if one has built up layers around one’s subconscious, then the meaning cannot be accessed including that which provides a “key” to unlocking DNA codes.
Bioecoustics have demonstrated how our neuro-hormones and autonomic bodily processes do respond to specific sound frequency patterns as demonstrated in some forms of meditation, and sound as a source of healing.
Research in the primordial sounds of dolphins have involved slowing down (64 times), and it has been found that there is some resemblance to the human voice, and speeded up two octaves sounds like birds! The sound of seagulls slowed down two octaves, sound like dolphins, and the humans voice speeded up sound initially like birds, and then like dolphins. Here may lie the science behind King Solomon’s ability to communicate with the animals, and the laws of nature that govern all forms of communication!
The Wild Dolphin Project, U.S., has collated 26 years worth of data on dolphin communication alone. They believe:
“Dolphins represent a superior non-human animal for cognitive work due to their advanced brains and sophisticated societies. Discoveries in dolphin cognition will serve to further elevate the status of all animals on the planet, and help us define our relationship with them. Knowing that dolphins have a complex communication system, it stands to reason that understanding it will involve many factors besides the sounds they make, including their environment, their behavior, their body posture, and their spatial and social associations. This work holds the ability to “bridge the gap” and transcend the artificial boundaries between non-human animals and humans with the establishment of a mutually comprehensive communication system.”
Why? That is another question, but research has shown that dolphins exhibit:
- Word order (syntax)
- Word meaning (semantics)
- Abstract thought
- Show self-awareness
While certain governments play with the airways and send holographic images of UFO’s around the world, part of the obejective of the Wild Dolphin Project is to facilitate:
Looking at non-human animal societies on earth may help us understand different types of intelligence and develop models to interact with an alien society outside our own planet. But how do we recognize non-primate, non-terrestrial intelligence? How do we work with realtime interactions and etiquette with a non-familiar intelligence? Are there emergent qualities of interactions that can guide us?
Yet, we haven’t got communication on earth right yet with the “if your not one of us…” mentality!
Unlike humans their echolocations, may bounce back off a plant, and when that information echoes back to the dolphins brain there is an understanding of that plant, from essence to essence.
Lessons from the Dolphin
If we learn unconditionally from experience, we learn more about who we are, our potentials, and our weaknesses. As humans we have that choice. What nature has is no choice, for it is our teacher. That experience includes, the signature of the dolphin like the whale: travel, emotions, intuition, communication, familihood, devotion, sacrifice, nobility, cooperation and living in harmony with ourselves and our environment.
But we are not living in harmony with our environment, and maybe the call of the dolphins referred to at the beginning is a reminder that the mysterious mass deaths of dolphins around the world is bringing to us. Scientists say that they cannot explain the reason for those deaths. The last mass death in March 2012, occurred in Peru, involving over a thousand dolphins, the mass media continued to portray it has a mystery.
What could cause bubbles to replace normal tissue in the dolphin’s liver,
- hemorrhagic lesions in the middle including the acoustic chamber
- fractures in the periotic bones
- bubbles in blood filling liver and kidneys,
- lesion in the lungs compatible with pulmonary emphysema
- sponge-like liver.
- Fractures of the right periotic bones
These findings led to the obvious, findings that was once a constant accusation made against the navy and their sonar techology in the past. Dr. Carlos Yaipen Llanos of ORCA in Peru informed Hardy Jones of Blue Voice that the dolphins died of acoustic trauma, the kind that can be caused by loud sonar or explosive blasts.
200 Dolphins beached on Manila Bay, Philippines
The waters are precious, for the oceans connect all the continents, with the earth constituting 70% water. Water transmits sound 4.5 faster than air, and sounds of anti-life, are transmitting against life.
Dolphins live in all the oceans of the earth, transmitting their sonar, which is in tune with the rhythm and the patterning of the earth – if it was not we would be culling them! Water holds memory, and holds the memory of the lives that it sustains. Three thousand dolphins have died so far in 2012 alone!
Thes fun loving, family orientated creatures, that can read what it communicates with teach us how to live unconditionally, for with conditions there is an inability to accept thus rejection of each other which is the opposite to sharing – a problem we humans have when it comes to reciprocity, mutual respect and sharing the earth’s resources. The waters of the Earth unite us, yet we devide every parcel of land and deprive and harm others in the process.
Dolphins and whales are often depicted as family centered, but the reality is that male and females only come together to mate. However, the level of social organization amongst the dolphins means that life time bonds are made between males, and family and social responsibility is the domain of the females. If one is disposed to making comparisons with humans, traditionally, this was a sacred way of life, so that the sacredness of each gender would not be compromised.
“A woman’s highest calling is to lead a man to his soul; so as to unite with source, her lowest calling is to seduce; separate man from soul; and leave him aimlessly wandering. A man’s highest calling is to protect woman; so she is free to walk the earth unharmed, man’s lowest calling is to ambush and force way into the life of woman” ~Cherokee Indian Tribe~
As teachers, dolphins have been used in forms of therapy to help the psychologically disturbed to heal. Dolphins are also about communication. We bury our true feelings and trap them into a perpetual cycle of fear, animosity, judgement, withholding, and suppression/oppression – but as we do that to others, we are doing it to ourselves. Misunderstandings ensue, and when things do not go our way we wander why.
It is about honest communication, and communication begins with active listening. Because of this, dolphins give of themselves in the human hour of need. How many suffer psychologically, spiritually, and physiologically in silence because in that moment of need, there is no one to turn to?
“Dolphins, the Facts of Life.” http://www.beach-net.com/dolphins/biology.html
“Drama of Dolphins: Study Shows Complex Social Life Of Aquatic Animals.” http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/ars/article/Drama-of-dolphins-Study-shows-complex-social-life-of-aquatic-animals841
Herzing, D.L. “SETI meets a social intelligence: Dolphins as a model for real-time interaction and communication with a sentient species.” Acta Astronautica 67 (2010) 1451–1454 http://www.wilddolphinproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Seti-2010.pdf
Whiting, C.C. “Mass Dolphin Deaths In Peru Caused By Acoustic Trauma.” http://digitaljournal.com/article/325075
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