Twenty Years with the Dolphins (2004) Movie Script

We're 30 miles from
the nearest land, 25 feet
under water, trying to establish contact
with a school of dolphins
I've known for more than 20 years.
Using a computer especially
designed to work under water,
we're broadcasting dolphin sounds
into an apparently empty ocean.
It appears to be a fool's errand,
but the sounds are answered.
This is the continuation
of a conversation
begun 20 years earlier
when Hardy Jones and Julia
Whitty first came to the Bahamas
with a primitive computer,
attempting to entice
a group of spotted dolphins
to their cameras.
I couldn't have imagined,
when I first set out
on this quest to meet
dolphins in the open sea,
that the work would take up
the rest of my life.
Not only did I find friendly
dolphins in the Bahamas,
but their discovery led me to seek out
other species around the world,
from bottlenose dolphins
in French Polynesia,
to killer whales in the Arctic.
Julia Whitty, trained as a biologist,
faced a unique challenge when confronted
with animals as curious about
her as she was about them.
I quickly found I couldn't
study dolphins the way
I had studied other animals.
The dolphins demanded
interaction with us
or they'd leave.
And that presented
a new kind of problem,
how to keep them interested
without influencing
their behavior.
One dolphin emerged from the group
as astonishingly friendly and curious.
We called him Chopper.
He'd swim with us nearly every day.
And we've had the privilege of
literally watching him grow up.
Today, Hardy Jones
uses film and the internet
to inform and educate
people to the unique world
of dolphins and
the environment they live in.
Though Hardy's work takes
him around the world,
he still returns to the Bahamas
nearly every summer,
especially to see Chopper.
When first setting out,
Hardy and Julia planned
to stay a single summer.
And the title they had
in mind for their film
was "A Year with the Dolphins."
Little did they know.
In the late 1970s, the idea of swimming
with dolphins in the wild
was the stuff of myths.
In those days,
whales and dolphins are still
being killed by the thousands.
My idea was that if
I could capture the lives
of free-swimming dolphins on film,
depicting their curiosity and
friendliness towards humans,
that it would help stop
the ghastly slaughters of dolphins
that were taking place
in the tuna fishery
and in places like Japan.
The effort started
when Hardy learned of a place
north of Grand Bahama Island,
where a treasure diver had
been swimming with a school of dolphins
for more than a decade.
These were spotted dolphins, a typically
shy species, that occurs
in tropical oceans
around the world.
But in this one location,
they were reported
to be uniquely friendly.
In 1979, Hardy got together a team
of underwater cameramen
and sound engineers
to join him on the quest.
That could be Didi.
During their earlysearches
for the dolphins,
they patrolled the western edge
of the Little Bahama Banks,
staring at a very empty sea.
But they were not disappointed.
I'll never forget the excitement
of those first encounters.
The dolphins raced in to see us, swirled
around, sonaring wildly.
After a while, they
slowed down to examine
us intently with their eyes.
There was a tremendous sense
of discovery and exhilaration.
They thought it was, ah,
high tide or something.
It's incredible.
I was trying to use it to...
as a bridge,
to see if I could get them
to come to the fin,
and then come...
come further.
But then the dolphins were gone,
and we could not find them again.
During our first two years,
we found the dolphins only twice.
One of the first things we learned,
as we returned to the Bahamas
year after year,
was that we wouldn't find
the dolphins, they'd find us.
We learned we could
identify individual members
of the school by body markings.
And in one case, by a remora
or suckerfish, which,
to our amazement, stayed with
one particular female for six
She was so curious and
friendly that she began to get
a reputation as a camera hog.
The dolphin with the remora
was accompanied by
rambunctious younger dolphins,
including the male who was missing
the tip of his dorsal fin, the one
they'd come to call Chopper.
The team had decided from the first
that they would never
tag or feed the dolphins.
All interactions would
be on a voluntary basis.
Those were heady days.
We were getting to know
a school of dolphins in the wild.
But there were some who took
objection to our treating
the dolphins as individuals.
After we did our initial reports
on our work in the Bahamas,
there was a lot of skepticism about what
we were doing because we were
giving names to dolphins.
We were dealing with
them as individuals.
This was kind of upsetting to some
in the scientific community.
They thought we should give them
numbers, to deliberately keep
ourselves remote from them.
The work Hardy and Julia
did in the early 1980s
showed that dolphins did not need to be
in captivity to be studied.
Long-term research could
be carried out underwater
in the wild with free dolphins.
The principal problem was
that while the dolphins would
arrive with great enthusiasm, they
would depart just as suddenly.
And the team would be left
with long days, in the hot sun,
On one of these mornings
with little to do,
the captain ran the outboard
just for fun,
and the dolphins immediately showed up.
It gave us a first clue about what we
needed to do to attract them.
And it wasn't long before they were
hanging out, waiting for some
action from this new toy.
A second breakthrough
came when I dropped my swim fin to test
how the dolphins would react.
The results were astonishing.
The dolphins came in, sonaring the fin,
circling, and ultimately touching it.
This is the same way
they respond to anything
new in their environment.
First, as they approach,
they sweep their heads
back and forth, sonaring.
When very close,
they examine with their eyes.
You can feel the sonar directed at you,
resonating through your body, especially
in your chest and sinuses.
Dolphin sonar ignores water.
So it can penetrate
body tissues and literally
see inside other animals,
a form of X-ray vision.
Because visibility in the sea
rarely exceeds 100 feet,
this sonar also enables them to detect
distant objects, such as a shark,
from a quarter of a mile
Using their jawbones as receivers,
the dolphins pass sound
signals to their brains,
where they are transformed
into three-dimensional imagery.
So when I took off my fin, I knew
they could easily discern the difference
between the rubber and my body.
But I hoped that pulling off
the fin would make them curious,
and it did.
As we spent time with the dolphins,
we began to recognize their
individual signature whistles.
We named the female with the remora Didi
because she always approached us making
the same up-down whistle.
While making these signature whistles,
the dolphins emit a stream of
bubbles from their blowholes.
So it's easy to spot which
animal is identifying itself.
Didi was a constant companion
of Chopper, the young dolphin
with a blunted dorsal fin.
During the first encounter in 1979,
his skin was a pearly gray,
with no spotting at all, indicating
he was less than two years old.
By the third year, he had begun
to develop some spotting.
Between the ages of three and five,
he was often seen with
a younger sibling,
perhaps acting as a baby sitter.
As he reached adulthood,
he began to form
alliances with other males.
With each passing year,
Chopper developed more spots.
But the unique dorsal fin
made him always identifiable.
I'm not certain how old Chopper was when
we first encountered him,
since no human had
observed his birth.
But he was certainly in
the first year of his life.
Indeed, no one had
ever observed the birth
of a dolphin in the open sea.
And it took me 20 years before
I even came close to witnessing
such a remarkable event.
In June of the year 2000,
the team departed West
End on Grand Bahama,
and made their way north to test
a new computerized dolphin
communication system.
It was the first trip out here
for John Ross, computer
designer and sound engineer.
John had designed a computer built
into an underwater housing,
which he and Hardy hoped
would attract the dolphins.
The computer is controlled by
a magnet, which acts in place
of the more familiar mouse.
So sort of just slip that in there.
The actual... a little bit
too hard to hold onto.
So if we can insert it in the glove,
it makes it much easier.
So I can just do the basic cursor
movements with the mouse and
my click, and drag, and enter.
So I can navigate around the screen
here and move the mouse in any location.
And since it's picture-oriented
and menu driven,
I can pretty much do almost
all the controls for the software
just from the mouse.
At first, bringing a computer
in the water
may seem preposterous.
But it makes sense.
The dolphins are primarily
acoustical creatures.
And so to interest them,
we developed a computer that
would not only replay sounds,
but record sounds in real time
and play them back to the dolphins.
We can also manipulate the sounds,
altering them in a variety of
ways to interest the dolphins.
We did not believe that
we'd be able to communicate
with the dolphins as one
human talks to another.
But we did hope we could
show the dolphins that we
were interested in them.
And at the very least, the computer
should attract the dolphins and
make it easier to film them.
But to do this, we needed dolphins.
Instead, we got a
rather large barracuda,
who seemed genuinely interested
in the sounds John was making.
So interested, in fact, that
John refused to play further.
It's no mystery
that finding the dolphins
on any given day is difficult.
Their home range covers
over 100 square miles,
including the coral reefs
on the edge of the Gulf Stream
and the sugar-white sands
on the Little Bahama Banks.
In this featureless zone,
the occasional shipwreck
becomes an oasis for fish
and a landmark for dolphins.
Here, they share their world
with great shoals of barracuda,
with eagle rays, and even
the occasional manta.
The spotted dolphins
spend the daytime hours
over the white sand,
a habitat vital to their survival.
This fact was vividly
illustrated to me in 1985,
during the single most extraordinary
experience I've ever had
with the spotted dolphins.
I was swimming with a small group, when
a very large Atlantic hammerhead shark
came up over the edge of the reef,
onto the White Sand Ridge.
I needed to breathe.
And when I went to the surface,
the shark followed.
Some of the dolphins
seemed to desert me.
I didn't want to be caught
with my legs dangling.
So I dove down a few feet
and started filming.
Then the most remarkable thing happened.
Here is the footage,
exactly as I shot it.
Chopper swam under my left arm and made
straight for the shark.
Two other juveniles came in and mobbed
the now confused hammerhead.
There's no question in my mind
that those dolphins
intervened to protect me.
Once the hammerhead was gone,
the dolphins resumed play
amongst themselves.
Because the dolphins
feed mostly at night,
out in the deep waters
of the Gulf Stream,
they need to find somewhere safe to rest
during the daylight hours.
Over the white sand,
they can shut off their sonar,
enabling that vital part of their brains
to rest, while their eyes take
over the important business
of keeping watch.
Against deep water or a reef,
sharks are difficult to see.
But over white sand,
they stand out clearly.
Seeing that hammerhead come at me,
and the dolphins' response to it,
is what led me to believe
that the white sand habitat is
critical to the dolphins' survival,
especially during their
daytime resting hours.
Another extraordinary
encounter one morning
during the summer of 2000 showed me
further reason why the white sand
is critical to the dolphins' survival.
A few youngsters arrived on the bow.
A larger group of dolphins
appeared in the distance,
but they seemed unusually preoccupied
with their own activities and did
not race to the bow as usual.
The juveniles, while staying close
to the main group of dolphins,
played amongst themselves.
But the densest concentration
was made up of adults.
Those are dolphins are
we sometimes call the heavies.
They are large male groups,
heavily spotted.
And they cluster together.
It sometimes can be
a defensive formation.
With the dolphins swimming
quietly around our boat,
we finally had a real chance to
test the computerized dolphin
Several of the juveniles
made quick passes,
but surprised me by moving on quickly.
My eyes strained to spot Chopper.
But the water was so murky I could only
see dolphins within 15 feet.
These younger dolphins were
more interested in grabbing
tasty snacks from the bottom
than in our computer.
Sonaring loudly, they moved over
the bottom like hound dogs
on the scent.
Once they spotted a fish, they would
snap it up with an audible
clacking of their jaws.
It's clear their sonar
can penetrate the sand
and discover small fish
in their burrows,
proving they will use their
versatile sonar in the daytime
if they didn't get enough
to eat the night before.
Even after two hours
of contact, the dolphins
continued to show virtually no interest
in the computer-generated
sounds and paid
no attention to us personally.
But they didn't try to avoid us either.
I'd never seen anything
like this before.
When I did get close to the main school,
I saw the dolphins were tightly packed
into a very defensive formation,
even though there was
no evident source of danger.
Staring through the murky water, I tried
to decipher what was going on.
Finally, my eyes focused
on what was happening.
At the core of the formation was
a single, very pregnant female.
She was surrounded by her pod
mates pressing against her,
forming a barrier of dolphin
bodies against any intruder.
It's my belief that we were witnessing
a gathering of dolphins to protect
a female about to give birth.
I never saw the birth itself
because several dolphins began
showing signs of displeasure.
They swam quickly past us, giving
a series of barks, which we know to be
a sign of anger or aggression.
We took the hint and
headed back to the boat.
As I waited to be picked up,
a large male dolphin swam over.
At first, I thought we were
in for another warning.
But then I saw this was an
old friend, Notchy, a dolphin
I hadn't seen for 10 years.
Here is a shot of Notchy in 1989,
clearly showing his injury.
I believe it was probably
from a boat propeller.
I was delighted to see
he was still alive.
The spine of a dolphin
is deeper within its body
than in a human.
But I think this dolphin
had a very close call.
Notchy was curious and
playful from the first.
He had a companion
who was a little older.
And the two of them played
together, and with us,
for more than an hour
during the summer of 1989.
I tried to join their games
by scratching
along the bottom with my hand.
This brought the two of them
rocketing back at me.
Then they'd shoot off, and
grab a bite from the sand,
and race back to play.
And I remember that when
time came for him to leave,
obeying some call from the
senior members of the pod,
Notchy hesitated,
looking back for an instant.
Then he was gone.
And I would not meet him again
for more than a decade.
But as I returned to the boat
that morning during the summer
of 2000, the spectacular
gathering of dolphins
seemed to increase.
Although they'd ignored us
and the dolphin communicator
while we were in the water,
now there were some 70 dolphins
clustered around the bow.
From the surface,
the core group of dolphins
looked almost like a single organism.
And that may have been their intent,
to present a predator with
a formidable looking defense.
This is the most relaxed experience I
think I've ever had with them.
And it is clearly the largest group
of spotted dolphins
certainly that we've ever had up here.
It's my belief that the entire dolphin
population of the White Sand Ridge
had gathered for a birth.
They had come onto the white sand,
away from the Gulf Stream, where they
knew they'd be safe from
sharks during the most
vulnerable moment in the life of
a mother and her newborn calf.
We ran with the dolphins
at low speed until 4:00 PM.
We'd had 70 dolphins for eight hours,
and then the ocean was empty.
The dolphins disappeared in an instant,
and we did not see them again.
After the first eight years
out on the banks,
Hardy and Julia had
identified a large number
of individual dolphins and were plotting
their social relationships.
Year after year,
the catalog of dolphin IDs grew.
Though at first, the movement
of the dolphin school
appeared chaotic, gradually
patterns began to emerge.
Although spotted dolphins
may occasionally
gather in large groups, they normally
are found in subgroups.
Females and young calves
form one of these.
Young males play together
until they're ready to join
the senior male coalitions.
Young females tend to stay
with the mothers and calves,
helping out as babysitters.
The affection dolphins have
for one another was clear to us
from the start.
They're constantly touching each other,
rubbing their pectoral fins
and flukes together.
Affection, even love, is
a form of social bonding
that ensures these dolphins
will take care of one another.
Because they live in a world where
sharks are always present,
dolphins are vulnerable.
And any dolphin separated from
the pod is in severe danger.
I was with a group of
mothers and calves one day
when an aggressive shark
swam down over the sand.
The dolphins instantly moved
into a protective formation,
with the adult females on the outside.
Little ones, who had been
playing on the perimeter,
were rounded up by nearby adults.
A male, becoming aware of
the threat, gave an alarm whistle.
Other males raced to join him.
And they united into a large
force, moving rapidly to defend
the females and calves.
One look at this formidable
coalition and the shark
skulked back into the blue.
Back in 1981, the team first
began working with a primitive version
of a computerized dolphin
communication system,
hoping to attract the dolphins
to the cameras,
and to see if some kind of
dialogue could be established.
This early design recognized
that dolphins vocalize
at very high frequencies,
allowing transmission
of huge amounts of information in very
short periods, something
like a computer modem.
Sound engineer Steve Gonyea
developed two systems
to deal with this, one, a tape
recorder, that would allow them
to capture the sounds of
the dolphins in real time,
but to hear the sounds at reduced speeds
within the human hearing range.
The second device, a synthesizer, Steve
had programmed with real dolphin
calls from the previous year.
Didi's signature whistle,
for instance, which he could
then play back to the dolphins.
How about if we assign one call to be,
like, my identity sound.
And I'll play that call
whenever I operate the box.
And we'll make one call your identity.
They had no idea
how the dolphins would respond
to the synthesizer, if at all.
When we first entered the water,
we felt a little foolish, standing
on the bottom with these
two plastic boxes in our hands.
But the dolphins'
response was immediate.
Chopper and Didi, with
some of their buddies,
came over to take a puzzled look.
This was the first time we'd ever
made sounds in the
dolphins' frequency range.
We knew something was happening when
a dolphin called Big Eye
began to descend
tail first from the surface.
This was a very deliberate
act, and not a normal way
for a dolphin to swim.
But it was the way Steve and
I had descended, feet first.
Steve let me have the headphones so I
could hear the dolphins with
the frequency stepped down.
The results were amazing.
Suddenly, the dolphins'
world came alive.
It was as though I had been watching
a symphony orchestra
playing, but only now
could hear the music.
Big Eye circled over to
cameraman Howard Hall, who
was lying on the sand filming.
To our absolute amazement,
this senior male
lay down on the sand,
right in front of him,
mimicking Howard's position.
The entire time, Big Eye was
imitating the sounds we were
making with the call generator.
He then swam back to Steve and me, who
were standing on the bottom.
And with great effort, began to use
his pectoral fins to bring himself
into a vertical position on the sand.
We were astounded by his actions.
Big Eye was standing in front of us,
mimicking both the motions of our bodies
and the output from the computer.
If I was going up,
the machine, let's say...
And I do that maybe once or twice.
And then the dolphins would go...
It adds something to it.
And there I was, stuck like a dummy,
with only being able
to push the box back.
And I felt like I wanted
to generate something
new on top of what they did because it
was clearly an interaction.
I can just as easily imagine
the dolphins are still questioning
whether we're intelligent or
not based on our inability
to respond to them.
Though this was a great success,
I knew that to move
the experiment further,
we'd have to be able to
replay and manipulate
those sounds in real time.
It would take nearly two decades
before technology would
give us the means to do this.
The White Sand Ridge
where the dolphins live
is nearly 40 miles from land, and offers
no protection from the weather.
Hurricanes are common in this area.
But when one made an unexpected turn
in our direction, we couldn't resist
staying a little longer to see
how the dolphins reacted.
They loved it, surfing
the waves and generally
having a great time.
I went in briefly to see
what it was like.
The dolphins were as excited as
I'd ever seen them, positively
thriving on the rough seas.
For me, being in the water
in those conditions
was more like being in
a washing machine than snorkeling.
Yet, here was Chopper,
having the time of his life.
But as the wind continued to build,
we couldn't risk staying any longer,
and headed south to calmer waters,
to the island of Bimini, about 80 miles
from the White Sand Ridge.
There, we could work closer to land.
This also gave us a chance
to see if there might be
other friendly dolphins around.
We decided to scout for
schools of spotters in areas
where currents and bottom contours were
similar to the White Sand Ridge.
As the weather cleared, we
started our search just north
of this fabled island.
It was strange studying
spotted dolphins,
for whom I had no history.
I didn't know any of
the individuals here.
But the thought of getting
to know a whole new school
was exciting.
The sand here is not nearly
so white as up north.
But it still provides
quite a bit of contrast
to help the dolphins avoid predators.
One of the first identifications
we made was of an adult female,
with much of her left
pectoral fin missing.
She closely resembled another female
we'd identified in the north.
But we'd need other data before
this qualified as a match.
Nevertheless, it raised
the question of whether there's
any connection between
the Bimini spotters
and those on the White Sand Ridge?
We identified another dolphin, which
appeared to be scarred from
fishing line that had once been
wrapped around its tail stalk.
I'd seen this kind of injury
on seals and sea lions
before, but never on a dolphin.
While we were able to
gather only a handful
of identifications here, we were
excited to see that Atlantic
spotted dolphins seemed to be
unusually friendly and curious
towards humans.
In the middle 1980s, Denise Herzing,
a dedicated and talented scientist,
began working on the White Sand Ridge,
studying the dolphins Hardy and
Julia had first filmed in 1978.
She, too, was interested
in a possible connection
between the Bimini school
and the northern group.
On a recent visit to
the White Sand Ridge,
we hailed her vessel, "Stenella."
"Ocean Explorer," "Stenella," 7, 2.
Calling 7, 2.
Since 1985, Denise Herzing
has maintained one of the longest
continual studies of
free-swimming marine mammals
ever conducted.
You could not interpret
communication very well
without knowing the players.
And that's why we had to
invest so much time in IDs
because if you have five
animals and they're interacting,
to interpret what's going on,
it's nice to know, well, that's
the sibling of that one, or
that's the calf of that one,
or mother, whatever,
because then the behavior
starts making more sense.
Of course, one of the most interesting
questions I had for Denise was
whether she'd seen Chopper?
Well, we certainly saw
that particular dolphin
when I came out here in '85.
We had seen his old shots on your films.
So we knew he had been
around, certainly previously.
He's been a real regular
dolphin up here with us.
We've seen him grow up.
And we've been monitoring who he's
associated with over the years.
And we've see some changes that way.
He's shifted alliances with
his previous male buddies.
He's now hanging out with
some of the southern males
- a little more.
- Oh, really.
This work out here
is actually some of the first
that's been done in
establishing how long
these animals live in the wild.
We know now, for 15 years,
that you have to be at least 15
to reach that spotted, probably older.
Knowing dolphins as we do,
Denise and I both agreed
that their deaths in tuna
nets, or in other ways
at the hands of humans,
is totally unacceptable.
So far, during this summer of 2000,
the dolphins had shown little
interest in our new computer.
And John and I were discouraged.
Now, we were down to our final day
on the water, just offshore of Bimini.
John prepped the computer
in nearly 20 knots of wind.
Dolphins appeared in the swells.
And we wasted no time
getting into the water.
As this was our last day, I
decided to take no chances.
Knowing the dolphins loved to play,
I bought an underwater
scooter in with me,
a toy they'd never been
able to resist in the past.
But the dolphins' attention quickly
shifted from the scooter,
to the computer.
Finally, they were responding.
But there were so many dolphins
and so much excitement
that it was difficult
to know whether they
were reacting to the calls or just
interested in all the action.
In the midst of this melee,
a bottlenosed dolphin appeared,
drawn in by the excitement.
But the spotted dolphins were
not pleased by his appearance.
They swam aggressively,
signaling one another,
then flinging themselves
against the intruder.
The bottlenose launched
himself repeatedly
through the surface in his
attempt to escape the spotters.
But he was driven off.
And the spotters seemed
to do a little dance
of self-congratulation.
With the bottlenosed
dolphin out of the way,
the spotters' attention
swung back to the computer.
They were incredibly excited, perhaps
wondering at our newfound ability
to communicate a sort of dolphinese.
Finally the pace slowed down enough
that we could hear a back and forth
exchange going on between
the dolphins and the computer.
Exhausted by the continual freediving,
I went for a small scuba tank.
You got it.
Back in the water, I went
for as many identifications
as I could get, shooting short
bursts of film at high speed.
But the juveniles, as always,
thought of it as just a game,
and took up positions as though
they were bow-riding my camera,
or engaged in the sex play
which takes up so much
of the dolphins' free time.
Got it.
I got some good IDs.
I recognize a couple of these guys.
From 1989, where we have some
good identifications just two
miles north of here, and
then from last November,
I had some identifications that
were done in this area too.
And when you start to build up
a real collection of the dolphins
here, and then start to match
with the dolphins that are
further up north and the dolphins
that are further down
south, then we can begin to establish
really how broad the range is.
There are times for putting
aside science and technology
and just being with the dolphins.
One afternoon, Julia had
a very special experience.
I just decided to relate to the dolphins
as fellow creatures, rather
than objects of study.
I started making eye contact.
And since there was no one else around,
everything got very quiet.
For humans, the desire to
reach out and touch is innate.
For a while, this dolphin remained
tantalizingly out of reach.
There's no question the dolphins
were responding to my moves.
When I dove, they did too.
Later that same day, I did
touch one of the dolphins
for the first time, and then
found them trying to lure me
away from the boat, out to sea.
After that first moment of contact,
the dolphins began swimming, pulling
Julia along in their wake.
She was skimming over the surface,
not moving her flippers.
It was as though the dolphins wanted
to take her home with them.
Over the years, I've always been
careful touching the dolphins.
But there was one occasion
when I couldn't resist.
A young female, with a crescent
shape out of her dorsal fin,
approached me and looked me in the eye.
Her fin reminded me of Chopper's.
But this was a young
female, not my old friend.
She moved her body in a manner that
was clearly soliciting a rub.
I felt it would be
insulting not to oblige her.
Indeed, she was so close that
I could film her with one hand
and touch her with the other.
She swam with me like
this for about 15 minutes
before drifting off with a
more hydrodynamic companion.
After our first films on the
dolphins of the White Sand
Ridge, divers began to come
from all over the world
to share the experience of meeting
free-swimming, friendly
dolphins in the open sea.
Here, it's possible to relate
to them, not doing circus tricks
in a cement tank, but
because they freely
choose to associate with us.
What is happening in the Bahamas
between spotted dolphins
and humans was once unique.
But today, the friendship
between humans and dolphins,
even humans and creatures
such as killer whales,
is expanding worldwide.
In Tysfjord, Norway, this
young female killer whale
approached our boat, and then swam
with me for more than an hour.
Her calf swam to within
a couple of feet of me
to investigate this strange creature.
It reminded me of the
early days when we'd
first met Didi and Chopper.
In New Zealand, in Ireland,
Australia, and French
Polynesia, people come by the thousands
for the privilege of meeting
dolphins in the wild.
Whales, too, are showing
friendly behavior.
It is impossible to guess
at how far the relationship
between the large-brained
creatures of the land
and those of the sea
could ultimately go.
It all began here,
more than 20 years ago,
in a remote area of the Bahamas, where
we learned to play with these dolphins
with any toys that came to hand.
Whether it's a game of drop-the-T-shirt,
a wind-up toy fish, or
underwater scooters,
their curiosity seems inexhaustible.
Our computer work is only
in the very first phase.
In the future, we'll use the computer
to analyze the
sophisticated vocalizations
the dolphins make in the
context of their actions.
We'll assign signature whistles
to each member of our team,
essentially naming ourselves
in dolphin whistle language.
At the very least, this
says to the dolphins,
we're interested in you.
Ultimately, it may lead to
a breakthrough between our two
species, a first hint of communication
with a non-terrestrial intelligence.
And where is Chopper today,
fully grown, more than 20 years
old, and in the prime of life.
I hope people get to know him
well, for he was all dolphins.
Every dolphin who dies in a fishing net,
or is killed by pollution,
or overfishing
is a dolphin just like
Chopper, Didi, Notchy,
and all the other dolphins
of the White Sand Ridge.
Our 20-year effort in the Bahamas
is but a hint of what might
develop between human beings
and other large-brained creatures
with whom we share our planet.
This relationship is only the beginning.
Synced and fixed by
H@w-to-kiLL @subscene.