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