Friday, January 8, 2010

Diving Dolphins: Sanibel's Most Intelligent "Non-Human" Residents

We all love to see them. They leap, smile, enjoy the applause. And around Sanibel Island, these Flipper friends are every where.

Though we've long known that they were not "dumb fish", we haven't always recognized that they were super- smart, warm blooded mammals.

Now, according to the London Times, there is a newer, more complete way that dolphins are being regarded: "Dolphins have been declared the world's second-most intelligent creatures, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as "nonhuman persons."

The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die this way each year.

'Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size," said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates.

'The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions,' she said."

Dick Fortune and Sara Lopez, nature photographers extraordinaire, have captured some stunning dolphin antics, including the one used here and are collaborating on a most interesting research project about dolphins.

On February 4, Dick and Sara will be the keynote speakers at the Sanibel- Captiva Audubon Society meeting on Sanibel. Their topic is Photographing the Birds of South Florida: How, Where and the Ethical Implications to be considered and is sure to be of great interest with the current discussion about treatment of dolphins getting world wide attention.

The meeting will be held at the Sanibel Community House at 2173 Periwinkle Way. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the lecture will begin at 7:30. There is a suggested donation of $5.00 per person.

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