Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wild Dolphin Lessons with Roberta~You're Not Alone!

dolphin & silly people  Are you afraid to look silly in front of dolphins?
Are you concerned that you may miss out because you have never snorkeled before?
snorkeler upside down as dolphins pass 
You will have dolphins dancing at your fingertips,
man makes dolphins appear
perhaps even grow a mermaid's tail,
snorkeler with dolphins ~
even if you're not an underwear model!
gorgeous man swims with dolphins
Because I give everyone individual attention to bring you comfort in the water and a kick in the fin. 
 A couple hundred guests have been out on boat trips to the spinner dolphins with me this summer, six snorkelers or less on each trip. 
Some guests were afraid of deep water.
Many guests had never before snorkeled in the ocean.
Very few had ever met a dolphin in the wild.
For them, these were lifechanging journeys to Dolphin Land.
Everyone returned with a smile,
more joy,
appreciation for the wonder of the sea,
and a connection to the family of dolphins that lives along the Kona coast.
In my blog on June 22, I introduced my Dolphin Secrets for attracting the best dolphin experience ever, secrets that bring the dolphins to you. 
 In previous blogs I have shared videos of my guests' amazing encounters. 
Coming soon is a video of What Not To Do. 
I have some catching up to do after a busy summer, and will soon post an unusual encounter with Pilot whales with a large group of guests from all over the world.
If you would like to join the journey,
Follow me! Write comments! Share the Journey!
Receive dolphins in your mail, add your favorite music, and follow us under the blue!
With aloha,
Roberta Goodman

Sunday, July 15, 2012

March 11, 2011 Tsunami Dolphins


Friday, June 22, 2012

SETI Contact Conference 2012 Talk part 2 Dolphins in the Wild

Dolphins in the Wild
While continuing research into dolphin communication, I take people out by boat to the spinner dolphins off the Kona coast. We typically encounter a pod of 200 dolphins, or a subset of the 700-800 resident spinner dolphins.
I’ve developed a protocol for these encounters, calling the basic three steps Dolphin Secrets.
1 The first dolphin secret, Terry taught me over 30 years ago. Terry would wait a couple feet away, while I was draped over the tank wall with my hands in the water.
 As she waited, I would breathe and relax, and relax even more, before she would glide into my arms. Terry rewarded me for relaxing deeply by allowing me to embrace her.
The first Dolphin Secret is to be in a position to wait for the dolphins to come to you. Let them approach if they want. Relax and wait.
2  Terry also rewarded me for grace. After we danced gracefully over the tank wall, fluid and innovative, Terry would run around the tank performing splashless bows, or corkscrew underwater. She would stand beside me with her nose pointed skyward and her eyes closed.
The second Dolphin Secret is to Go in Grace – be predictable and smooth, respectful and calm. Observe and respond to what happens during the encounter.
3 The third secret is to establish and maintain eye contact. When the dolphins gaze at you and the moment becomes timeless, go with it. Be present. Be open to gamesplaying.  If it seems appropriate, become more active, either swimming with them or following their lead. They have invited you to play, even if this time lasts mere seconds. Eye to eye gaze, stay present, focus, be attentive and responsive. Play, but play with grace and respect, not intrusion. Watch for cues. Feel your response to their mood and behavior, and then feel the dolphins’ response to your response. BE with them.
Relax and breathe. Go in Grace. Be present in eye to eye contact.
Communication begins here. We are sending signals to the dolphins. Signals indicating harmlessness, non-intrusion, trust, respect, curiosity, and a willingness to play if invited.  Dolphins have an extensive limbic system which immerses them in awareness of others, including us.  We are only learning to watch for signals from the dolphins indicating their trust, curiosity, acceptance of our presence, and willingness to engage us in games. 
In my videos I am looking at their use of whistles and other vocalizations while in close proximity to us, perhaps directed towards us. Also their use of vocalizations while engaged with each other in highly active play. I have some of these videos posted on and
If you would like to analyze any of my videos, please let me know.
Roberta Goodman
Kailua Kona

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Eye of the Dolphin Hurricane

Eye of the Dolphin Hurricane

I've been recording dolphin behavior for several years, hoping that I will someday keep the scene still, in frame, in focus, and with good sound while dolphins show me who they are.  As I point and shoot, I often mentally tell the dolphins that they have an audience beyond me through the camera lens. I've caught glimpses into their everyday lives.  This week I decide to change my message and today I ask them, "Show me something different."  I wish to capture the extraordinary, the profound. My experiment tests my ability to transmit and the dolphins' sensitivity to my wishes as I record and wait for something new. I'm too slow to film a beautiful bubble ring, not a circular tube of spinning air like divers emit, but a ring of tiny bubbles blown deep and ascending in an enlarging circlet, so I take a quick snap instead.
"Show me Something Different," I ask the dolphins, directing my camera at a few sweeping by over the coral. Moms and last year's babies rise to breathe from the deep. Nothing unusual in the passbys.  Nothing extreme in the noisy active group at the perimeter of my vision. Oh, they aren't listening, I think, but let's see what happens as I continue to film . . .
My guest, mother of three rambunctious boys, and I turn from the blues to the coral garden. The dolphins gather. The action builds, then bursts around us with an orchestra of emotion and energy!  I am enthralled, transfixed as the mass of dolphin bodies suspends in sudden quiet motion before me.
This display of power, coordination, and teasing restraint of so many dolphins in such close proximity IS extraordinary!  The dolphins' natural behavior unpredictably coincides with my wish and request.  Pods stream in around us and form balls of turmoil; a finely tuned balance of trajectories. Lying on the surface, we hover over the center of the cyclone of dolphin bodies. My guest is in perfect poise in the hurricane of movement, in comparison to another observer scared by the proximity of large projectiles.
The dolphins seemed to perform for our benefit, bringing their lives into rich focus before us. The Eye of the Dolphin Hurricane is a perfect storm, clear water, sunlight, shallow coral, and fifty dolphins in a mood to play. This event was different!
I'm an impatient editor.  This sequence is a splice of all the day's footage, nothing cut, in order of appearance. It has a beginning, middle, and end. If you would like to skip the buildup, go to about 3:45-5 minutes to begin.

A dripping wet thank you to all my guests, who offer me the opportunity to get out on the water most everyday! It's days like these when the dream becomes real.

Wild Dolphin Swims Hawaii
Kailua Kona, Big Island

Friday, May 25, 2012

SETI Contact Conference 2012 Talk

SETI Contact Conference 2012
March 31
Sunnyvale California

Good Afternoon!  And ALOHA!
Dr. John C. Lilly’s book, Communication Between  Man & Dolphin fell into my hands while living on Maui in 1978.  Reading it decided my career.  I knew I wanted to talk with dolphins!
I am learning to communicate with inhabitants of Planet Ocean – with a species in so many ways completely different than ours, no hands, no legs, not speaking nor breathing from the mouth, living in a weightless 3D environment – and yet, CETACEANS, particularly dolphins, are extremely relatable.
In 1980, John Lilly opened a lab at Marine World/Africa USA, in Redwood City, not far from where I was living in Cupertino.  At Marine World, I found that Lilly had yet to get his dolphins, but there was a petting pool open to the public.  I returned every weekend, played with the three dolphins, and made friends with Terry, Gordo, & Spray.          
Terry especially allowed an amazing level of play.  I held her tail and we danced—I stretched and spun and plunged her from over the tank wall.  We embraced, I kissed and licked her skin. 
Terry taught me grace in dancing with a dolphin.  She offered me amazing trust, with complete surrender to my touch and moves. I hated leaving at night, felt she never belonged in captivity, and wished to take her away to the sea.

A research  team began studies and the pool was closed to public interaction.  I was dismayed, but the lead investigator immediately asked me to join her work on a bi-lateral communication study.

As a volunteer, I worked with my own research subject, Terry.  I would come early and stay late to enjoy free play with the dolphins once again.  Terry continued to teach me what it meant to be a dolphin.
At Contact 2010, the title to my talk was Who’s Testing Whom?  I told the story of “20 Wrongs in a Row” in which Terry found out what was acceptable as touching the target -- by almost touching the target 20x’s in a row. Various parts of her body came very close without touching, she even tried squirting water at the target, but my response was No Touch/ Incorrect.  Terry tested my perceptions and definition of “Touch” and "Correct."
I became a diver for the park, cleaning all the tanks, including the show tank.  There I met the alpha female Shiloh, the punk Bayou, shy Schooner, sweet Stormy, and the 20' pilot whale Koko.  The show dolphins tested my trust of them over and over, in mean-girl games.  They rewarded me for trusting them not to hurt me, although they did battle with the divers quite often. 
Trust is an important issue in dolphin relations.

Dolphins in the wild also test our perceptions and play trust games.