Reflection on "Dolphin Mysteries"
By Kirsten Howard (05/24/10 11:19:11)
Related animal: Dolphin

My attention was caught in chapter 5 of “ Dolphin Mysteries,” especially on page 133 when she discusses dolphins in captivity and dolphin training. I do not agree with the concept of keeping dolphins in captivity nor do I agree with training them or trying to get specific responses from them. She discusses it in this way, “The training of dolphins is a venue for the in-depth exploration of dolphin-human communication. Dolphins in captivity and trainers communicate through positive reinforcement: dolphins learn to modify their behavior to obtain a reward according to signals learned from the trainer.” While this method of training is not physically harmful, I do not agree that it is a form of interspecies collaboration or true communication, because the dolphins are working for a reward in this case, and not working for the sake of communication. It is therefore not a study of their true nature, but rather a study of behavior modification as laid out by humans. This relates back to anthropomorphism that we discussed in class, in which humans project onto animals. Instead of trying to teach dolphins things, why don’t we let them teach us now? It is time for us to learn from animals, and recognize that they embody a wisdom that may not necessarily be in the intellectual sense that we recognize, but rather, it is in a different sense altogether, and connected to the natural world in ways that we should be more open to witnessing and appreciating.

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