Mr. Wood: In the course of twelve years in Marine Studios in Florida, I spent a great deal of time watching what was perhaps the most natural assemblage of Tursiops in captivity, including animals of various ages, usually two or more of them in the process of growing up, and I saw remarkably little of what you are going to look for in a much more restricted group of animals in the Virgin Islands.

One time I saw something very interesting. Early one morning about six or six-thirty, over a period of at least half an hour, the adult male assumed a position next

151 'Whitehead and Russell, op. cit.

to one of the females in the tank who was hanging motionless in the cur-rent. He would go up occasionally and move away and then come back and assume a position beside her, and he would stroke her side with his right flipper repeatedly. There was no indication that this had sexual significance. There was no erection on the part of the male, and no observable response on the part of the female. But it was as clear-cut a nonvocal signal as I ever observed in the tank.

Mr. Bateson: I would like to say that the amount of signaling that goes on is much greater than is evident at first sight. There are, of course, the rather specific kinds of signals which are very important. I am not denying that. I mean the touching, and so on. But the shy individual, the traumatized female, staying almost stationary three feet be-low the surface while two other individuals fool around, is getting a great deal of attention just by sitting there and staying. She may not be actively transmitting, but in this business of bodily communication, you don't have to be actively transmitting in order to have your signals picked up by other people. You can just be, and just by being she attracts an enormous amount of attention from these other two individuals who come over, pass by, pause a little as they pass, and so on. She is, we would say, "withdrawn," but she is actually about as withdrawn as a schizophrenic who by being withdrawn becomes the center of gravity of the family. All other members of the group move around the fact of her withdrawal, which she never lets them for-get.

Dr. Ray: I tend to agree with Mr. Bateson. We are working at the New York Aquarium with the beluga whale, and I believe these animals are much more expressive than we like to suspect. I think one of the reasons they don't do very much in captivity is that they are bored to tears most of the time. There is nothing much of interest in their tank environment, and I would like to suggest that we have to manipulate their captivity much more cleverly than we do. I don't mean handling the whales. They don't like that. But the introduction of different types of animals, or clever little things that we might do would get them to respond more. Captive cetaceans are like monkeys in a cage. They are highly intelligent and highly developed, and they are bored.

Another factor is our skill in observation, and in the beluga whale, at least, we have been able to notice visually the sounds they are making by watching the change in the shape of the melon, which is extremely marked in this animal. It can swell on one side or the other, or take several different shapes correlated with sound production. So, by very careful observation and/or skilled manipulation, I think a great deal can be done with these animals rather simply.

Mr. Bateson: I had meant to point out that all sense organs among mammals, and even among ants, become major organs for the transmission of messages, such as, "Where are the other fellow's eyes focused?" and, "Are his pinnae focused in one direction or another?" In this way sense organs become transmitting organs for signals.

One of the things we must absolutely acquire if we are going to understand dolphins is a knowledge of what one animal knows and can read from another animals' use of sonar. I suspect the presence of all sorts of courtesy rules in this business; it probably isn't polite to sonar scan your friends too much, just as among human beings it is not polite, really, to look at another's feet in detail. We have many taboos on observing one anothers' kinesics, because too much information can be got in that way.

Dr. Purves: It seems to me that the dolphin or the cetacean must suffer from an even greater disadvantage than man has in the past, because —I have forgotten the authority—it has been said that the origin of human speech is an analogue language. In other words, if you use the word "down," you lower the hand and lower the lower jaw at the same time. If you say "up," you raise the hand and raise the lower jaw. And if you use the word "table," and, better still, pronounce it in French, your mouth widens out and you make a horizontal gesture. However complicated the human language is, it has its origin in an analogue language. The poor porpoise has nothing like this to start from. So he must have been highly intelligent to have developed a communication system completely de novo.

Mr. Bateson: What has happened to this creature is that the information we get visually and the other terrestrial animals get visually must have been pushed into voice. I still maintain that it is appropriate for us to start by investigating what is left of the visual material.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Supreme Sobriety

Supreme Sobriety

How to Maintain Your Resolution to Be Sober. Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Sobriety. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Turning Your Love For Cooking Into A Money Maker.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment