I watched a Natural World documentary on the rescue of swimmers by dolphins. It was so amazing that I watched it again the next night. The incidents were not all that recent, but I don’t remember reading about them in the news.
Four years ago I was talking with a friend who swam with dolphins. She said she was told by the trainers that dolphins were just curious and did what they were trained to do. Looking back at that email conversation, it seems I had seen the following:
There was something on the news recently about a trainer being attacked by a killer whale, who went berserk and tried to drown him in front of everybody… do killer whales suffer from burnout and breakdowns too?? I would have done the same to some of the folk at the office, given a large pool and a bucket of fish.
My friend said she’d heard that the whale in question was an adolescent, probably wigging out teenager-style.
All of the dolphins in the recent Natural World documentary were wild. They were not performing for fish. Dolphins are obviously no friend of sharks… it could be a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That still points to emotion – a more active emotion than swimming away thinking “thank goodness it wasn’t our turn to get eaten.”
Whatever their aims, it doesn’t seem to me to prove anything when someone points to the fact that dolphins can be aggressive and cruel to humans and each other. Nobody ever said that humans were angels; we still consider ourselves capable of altruism. We recognize that we have personality differences, imbalances, feuds, rivalries, suspicion and so on… why would dolphins be any different? They’re not fairytale creatures; they’re flesh and blood.
While feeling so tired and disillusioned, it’s nice for me to ‘believe’ in something that’s out there, particularly something dwelling in an environment as alien and frightening as the sea. It’s the next best thing to believing in superheroes… no; it’s better than that.
Are we completely on our own here, or are some animals prepared to show kindness?
All the time I was writing this (most especially in the middle of my last sentence), the girl kitten (Delilah) gave me at least three playful, painful, completely unexpected scratches. On thumb, finger, and the inside of my elbow. Apart from Cheeky, she’s the worst kitten for scratches I’ve ever encountered. She’ll land on a bare arm or hand with all her claws digging, or suddenly slash at you as though your finger, hand or foot was a mouse to be slaughtered. No holds barred.
The boy kitten, Samson, is old enough to be gentle. When he’s playing, he just holds your fingers with sheathed paws and touches them with his teeth. That’s what Sharky (my last cat) used to do. Delilah will learn too – most kittens do. When kittens are too fierce with my friend Kristin, she will draw back and say severely: “don’t do that – that’s BARE SKIN.” Cats seem to get the message eventually.
Humans are soft, fragile and defenceless in some situations – they need to be cared for.
Out of interest, I fished out an assortment of links on dolphins, and on animal emotions in general.
I liked them all, but especially the last article. “Please do not shout at the cows.”