Emory University neuroscientist Lori Marino, a leading expert in the neuroanatomy of dolphins and whales, begs humans to reconsider making pets and now therapists, of these magnificent creatures.
“Dolphins are sophisticated, self-aware, highly intelligent beings with individual personalities, autonomy and an inner life. They are vulnerable to tremendous suffering and psychological trauma,” Marino says. ‘The Cove’ producer Ric O’Barry tells the story that Flipper — who he trained — stopped breathing in his arms, looked him straight in the eye and committed suicide.
Scientists believe that dolphins rival humans in intelligence. One measure known as the encephalization quotient, or EQ, quantifies the size of a species’ brain compared with what would be expected based on body size alone.
Humans have an EQ of about 7 and chimpanzees and other great apes a little more than 2. Dolphins have an EQ of 4-5.
What’s more, the cortex of the dolphin brain is more complicated than the human cerebral cortex. On at least one scale of brain function, dolphins (but not whales) beat humans. The cerebral cortex in mammal’s brains plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.
We’re reading up on Marino’s research but are already stunned by this Washington Post article Dolphin therapy is booming despite concerns about efficacy and animal cruelty.
On the one hand we have people paying $2,600 for five 40-minute sessions with these special creatures and then Japan slices and dices them. Spending a short time reviewing dolphin consciousness, I see this is a growing ‘cult’ therapy, one that makes dolphins everything from interplanetary aliens to angels.
I found the beautiful art of Jean Luc Bozzoli in my brief Google search for dolphin consciousness being damaged by humans. Instead all the early pages are humans wanting to embrace dolphins in a spiritual matter. I can move to Arizona to learn how to channel dolphin energy.
Of course I’m not dismissive of these beliefs. But who understands how the dolphins feel about our co-opting them?
Marino, who has spent more than a decade tracking the trend, estimates there are now more than 100 organizations offering therapy with dolphins. They’re found in such widely scattered places as Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, Israel, Australia and Ukraine, and a study cited in 2007 by the international Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said a typical charge was $2,600 for five 40-minute sessions.
The top dolphin researchers also believes that dolphins suffer enormous stress being confined for human amusement. Dolphin’s nature is one of swimming 75-100 miles in a day, not hanging out for photos in SeaWorld.
I’ve become increasingly interested in dolphin consciousness since writing with Dave in New Zealand. This new learning about dolphin brains has shaken me to my core. How can the world stand by while creatures with this high potential for consciousness are slaughtered without mercy.
If one more man lectures me on women’s sinful nature, I may pick my own harpoon gun. Dolphin slaughter is an international disgrace, and I don’t want to hear any more about the cultural rights of Japanese fisherman to save face and carry on their murderous traditions.
Seriously, I willl not sleep tonight after what I’ve read.
Please note that ‘The Cove’ will be distributed in Japan by Medallion Media with a tentative release date of April 2010.
Coincidental with the killing of Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld Orlando, Why Did Killer Whale Snap? Five Leading Theories via AOL News. Orca (whale) intelligence hasn’t been studied as much as that of bottlenose dolphins. While whale EQ is estimated at 1.76 below, I’ve also found it at 2.5.
Note: my friend’s first question was about the EU of dogs. The list that I found at Brynmawr College is: