I’ve never been a huge fan of the Flippers of the world. With their slippery-grey skin and piano-teeth smiles; it seems as if the non-fish sea creatures know too much.
But being anti-dolphin is not a rainbow sticker you would proudly whack on your car. Being non-dolphin friendly is likened to being a Pauline Hanson supporter: backward with an “I was born here, they swam here!” mentality and slightly afraid of integration (lest the creatures learn to walk and enter our borders).
Society be mad-crazy on dolphin paraphernalia from the hippy-loving-dolphin-tattooed folk to the doting tourists paying shitloads to swim and be one with the dolphins.
Dolphins have long been praised by scientists for their phenomenally alien-like powers. They are the second most intelligent creature (after us, of course) and are one of the few animals that enjoy sex for pleasure. The other animals are us (of course) and bonobos – a type of chimpanzee. I don’t trust this list though, dogs always look very happy when in a compromising position.
One professor, John C. Lilly, was especially fond of the intelligence of dolphins and because of his keen interest received NASA funding to teach a dolphin to speak human. In a real-life 1963 spin-off of from My Fair Lady to My Fair Dolphin, Margaret Howe, a 23-year-old assistant had the delightful job of giving Peter the bottle-nose dolphin elocution lessons.
The 10 week crash course (Dolphin Shrill to English Master 101) took place in a water-filled apartment on the Virgin Islands complete with suspended-bed décor and floating desk. With 22 inches of water, Margaret lived in her swimming cossie, trimmed her hair short to prevent colds and lived on canned foods. For 24 hours a day Margaret ate, played and lived with Peter.
For Peter’s lessons she painted her face black and white mime-style to help him see the muscles of her face and movement of her lips. From the scratchy recordings it sounds like this method was working and Peter was coming along nicely. He could pronounce words “one,” “we”, “triangle” and “hello.” When Margaret said the line, “work, work, work,” he would respond with a screechy “play, play, play.”
But Peter had other things on his mind, trying to woo his teacher. An extract from Margaret’s diary is a potential sequel to 50 shades of grey (dolphin):
“I stand very still, legs slightly apart, and Peter slides his mouth gently over my shin…. Peter is courting me… he has been most persistent and patient… Obviously a sexy business… The mood is very gentle, still and hushed… all movements are slow.”
Now how does one respond to their student sexually advancing on them? A simple, but effective “RACK OFF!” is lost when the one doesn’t understand (at least not yet) human talk. Of course Margaret was mature about this, she’s a scientist’s assistant after all and gave him a vacation with two female dolphins for a brief period, which helped ease the tension.
Unfortunately Margaret’s amazing, but creepy, story is overruled by the sexual adventures of Peter. And who doesn’t love a headline like ‘Wet and Wild: Tales of Dolphin Sex’ and ‘The Girl Who Lived In Sin With A Dolphin.’ It’s click-bait at its best.
The media’s fascination with the perfect bestial headline led to the study being cut short. Unfortunately there is no happy wedding-bells Eliza Doolittle ending for Peter.
Peter was relocated to a Miami Lab where due to his broken heart and rejection from Margaret he committed suicide by suffocating himself. Dolphins, like humans, are one of the other few creatures that can kill themselves with intention. It’s tragic, but also a little bit creepy.
Published in Funny Haha Issue Three: Across The Sea