Monthly Archives: February 2014


Denise Herzing: Could we speak the language of dolphins?

Total time: 14 minutes, 38 seconds

Current total views to date: 878,320

Ok, first off, Dolphins play games with TOYS!?!  I didn’t know that.

I’ve been to aquariums and marine parks, where Dolphins knock the ball around and leap through hoops, but the notion of wild dolphins playing pickup ‘capture the flag’ games surprises me.  This falls under the ‘everything you know’ is wrong category where I quickly realize my understanding of Dolphins is rather on the meek side.

Looking up ‘dolphins’ on initial searches shows a wealth of information about these cetacean mammals that makes me believe that human fascination with the creatures are akin to an internet viral.

Do you know what I know about Dolphins?  Not much.  And like most people, the information I’ve gained over the years was accidentally absorbed through the medium of television.

Flipper, was an actor.

The Simpsons did a halloween special where Dolphins rose up against humanity.

and this.

Now there was an Orca in that commercial, and (he/she?) happens to be part of the Dolphin species.

Seeing that there are 40 species of dolphins (plus hybrids), there is way too much information to pass along easily.  Just reading the wikipedia is fascinating.

A few items stand out of course:  Historical partnerships with humans and military use.

Starting from Ancient Roman stories, according to Pliny the Elder ( human-dolphin fishing, where dolphins would purposely chase fish into human nets, was thing.  It makes sense, both sides get to chow down on sushi afterwards so I don’t see not.

But could this possibly be happening today?

The answer is, YES and there’s video.

As for military purposes, the dolphins are modern allies, to the point that Russia sold military Dolphins to Iran in 2000?!?

Holy crap, this is also true:

This is definitely one of those things that does not come to mind when wanting to compare military power.

“Ah, well they may be gearing up but how weaponized are their dolphins?  We are decades ahead in weapons grade Dolphinium.” – General Dolphinator

Internet wise, however, I’ve also seen other horrific articles showing that Dolphins are just intelligent enough to be complete dicks.  Note: If you wish to keep a positive view on Dolphins, don’t click the link.  I can only advise that fallacy of hasty generalization.  (The application of few examples to represent all cases)

Of course Herzing doesn’t just cover Dolphins but she also includes samples of communication.  Now communication is something I take consideration in quite often.

I consider it every time I use a conversation opener and the conversation turns into this.

Me: How so?

Them: …  *walks away*

What we have here is a failure to communicate!  And if talking to people is frustrating, I can’t imagine talking with Dolphins to be a joyride through Blowhole city.

Just to go through the thought experiment, how can strangers communicate comfortably?  (By using ‘Strangers’, it allows a natural difference large enough to represent two different species)

What can two people talk about right away?  There are the personal obligations, the options that people cannot avoid in their own lives:  Eating, drinking, maybe sleeping?

Favorite foods or restaurants, alcohols or ways to take their coffee.  How well rested you are for the day’s events.  All these topics are neutral and safe enough to use in a work environment.

Often at one’s deathbed, reflections about life can be summarized as eating, sleeping, sex (Bubba Ho Tep reference)

Sex and Pooping are two topics that although common, are NOT safe neutral topics to discussing.

“Hey, you seem happy.”

“Well, I just took this massive dump in the bathroom there and I feel running around like a cat out of the sandbox.  How’s the sex life?”

“I’m an ugly and am a sexually unwanted cretin, thanks for the reminder!”

Although it’s relatively safe to assume that most mammals have a positive self assertiveness, it is unknown if Dolphins in particular have topics they just don’t like talking about,

Of course, it doesn’t end there because of the concepts of shared experiences.  There are literal shared experiences (like both being stuck on a bus that broke down) but m ore common is to find a popular enough event to forge a commonality upon.

“Did you watch the Superbowl?  Where were you when Kennedy was shot?  When did you first learn the concept of twerking?”

The common experience is another very safe topic but it does bring up competing levels of expertise and possible conflicts of interest.

“Flipper, did you notice the water suddenly got warmer?”

*Dolphin laughs, swims away*

*Dolphin squeaks* <Look out, whale.>

“That’s no whale, that’s my husband.”

And other conversations like this could probably occur, eventually.

However, there are natural boundaries blocking even people from communicating that extend beyond common bonds and mutual interests/goals.  Two of these are:

The 30 point IQ gap, 10,000 hours to master a skill.

What are these?  Why?  The 30 point IQ gap is a hypothetical concept that communication breaks down between individuals when there is a large enough difference in intelligence (by a standard of two deviations, or 30 IQ points)  See Leta Hollingworth:

In this particular case, it is in reference to ‘higher IQ’ children leading other children, a false bias that extends into ‘the leader, MUST be smarter’ in adulthood.  Worse, is the Dunning-Kruger effect, where illusory superiority, creates ‘classic’ bad management scenarios.

It’s highly unlikely that Dolphins are going through something as complicated as this in their social circles, however it does pose the question that IF Herzing is working strictly with only other scientists, they might be missing a rapport that might exist on a different IQ range.  (And this might explain why I get along with pets better than their own owners because I am.. derp)

As for 10,000 hours (which is probably how long I’ve been writing this entry), is the ‘mastering’ of a skillset via 10,000 hours of practice.  Two individuals, might be at measurements of 200 hours vs 9,000 hours and thus have two very ‘different’ methods despite sharing the same opinion.

Another way to describe it, are the ‘have been single forever’ types who have spent 10k hours developing social skills that in comparison, others may have barely scratched the surface on.

“Tonight is dragon boat racing, tomorrow is the tea club, weekends are the charity auction dances and self improvement clubs.”

“Wow, after I got married after high school, all I’ve been doing is raise my kids.”

“I am far better at meeting new people, dealing with others and finding common interests, and yet I still hate you.”

This most likely isn’t a problem as Herzing is monitoring multiple generations of dolphins, but it is interesting food for thought.  Or atleast, that’s how I’m going to communicate it.

Mental note: Bring a sound board to work and try to instill a sound/image to my boss with ‘Give me a Raise”.

Hey, y’never know.

So long and thanks for the share (and all the fish),


Bonus video!  (Only because it’s funny)

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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized