Reflection: Interspecies Relationships
Response to Toni Frohoff's Discussion & Ideas on Dolphin Collaboration Project
By Alli Harrod (05/23/10 21:45:49)
Related animal: Dolphin

In Toni Frohoff's discussion about dolphins with our class she shared knowledge that will help us with our dolphin collaboration projects on the boat on Tuesday. She discussed a range of topics from "dolphinality," echolocation, types of dolphins, threats that dolphins face as a species, and what we can do (or not do) to help. "Dolphinality," Toni explained, is a term that characterizes individual identities/distinctive personalities that dolphins have which separates each dolphin from the rest of the dolphin species. Dolphins are very social and live within their own "dolphin culture," in "fusion/fission" groups similar to human cultures, where dolphin societies are made up of individual associations in smaller 'subcultured' groups. Communication amongst these groups happens in various ways. Some of the communicative language that dolphins use, Toni explained, are echolocation, whistling, high frequency clicking, and blowing bubbles. She described that dolphins whistle in order to identify a speaker and express themselves through high frequency clicking or blowing bubbles (which she added, may be an expression of excitement or delight.) Their most advanced form of communication, however, is echolocation, which we as humans still know little about. Toni explained that echolocation for dolphins is like seeing sounds in frequencies, as humans would see x-rays as an analog, adding that their echolocation is far more advanced than our sonar.

The different types of dolphins that Toni identified and discussed with us are the coastal and offshore bottlenosed dolphins and the common dolphins, including a short-beaked and a long-beaked species. The short-beaked and long-beaked common dolphins are different species of dolphins because they still can not reproduce together since their genes are so different. However, both species' societies often move and interact in schools and super schools (over 1000 dolphins plus!) She explained that our class trip would be likely to see large schools or super schools swimming around our boat but regardless, we should heed the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This act states that only if animals (in this case dolphins) approach you, may you "hang out" with them and humans are never allowed to seek them out. Heeding this act, we discussed methods of dolphin interaction from a boat that does not breach its rules nor threaten to harm.

Ideas for dolphin collaboration project:

Many of my ideas prior to Toni's discussions with us and the knowledge that we could not stick anything over the edge of the boat, all of my ideas involved putting objects in the water in order to attract the dolphins closer to the boat. Since these ideas threaten to modify or change dolphin behavior, I disregarded them. Now I would like for my contributions to our class project to be related to the hydrophone and documentation of the event. Since dolphins' main form of communication involves sound under the water, I would really love if Toni's hydrophone works and is allowed on the boat. I would like to whistle and/or scat to the dolphins and see how they like it. Also, I converged with Heather, Travis, and James, and we have come up with ideas to present the event to everyone at the show. We figured that many people are not going to be aware of our interactions with the dolphins and what our intentions were unless we show a first hand account with some explanation. I think that all of our work involving interspecies collaboration in this class would be undermined if we did not present what we learned and the interactions that we have had in a way that an audience can relate to and resonate with (and hopefully decide as individuals that they would like to heed example and try interspecies collaboration for themselves and another species.)

Film -

Documentary/"Mock"umentary style (not the whole thing, just a little bit)

1. introductions (so that a viewer can know who we are and what we're doing)
A. Lisa
B. Toni
C. Captain
D. Some students
(hopefully this will give a picture of a statement of purpose)

2. 4 Cameras
A. One or Two on top of boat capturing (both) sides of water
B. Two interacting with students and projects
C. Heather's photo camera for stills

- maybe hook up microphone to camera?
-involve hydrophone recordings

3. Be in certain places for 4:30 ** recording moment (determine this amongst our group while we are on the boat and we evaluate what's going on)

4. Try to capture a brief description by a student or two from each project so that the viewer can get a sense of what is going on...***so that we don't just have a bunch of people flapping around a boat in black and white seemingly with out rhyme or reason and then some shots of some dolphins***...and then edit it to where there would be a brief description and then a shot of dolphin response.

This would be a good way to involve all different people from the class, what our purpose is/what we are trying to accomplish in connection with the dolphins, their actions, and footage of it...

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