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.