reply to post by Arken
Hmmm, am I the only person to notice that the divers WENT to the dolphin, WITH the gear and video camera, and not what the OP claims in his title,
that the dolphin went looking for help? An interesting example of social psychology I think: people dial down their critical thinking skills when they
expect to see a video depicting a dolphin seeking human help - an "awww" moment that they can't help but partake in.
In any case, dolphins really are a strange creature. Why are they sociable? It boggles the imagination (or at least my imagination). Dogs are sociable
because they've formed natural bonds with man - bonds that have been cemented over thousands of years of human-dog relationship. Dolphins on the
other hand are aquatic creatures. Why should they feel so comfortable and safe around us? What prior history could a dolphin - or as a collective
species, dolphins - have, in feeling so safe around us?
Every animal assumes a defensive pose when confronted by man. A lizard will scurry away; a bird will carefully watch you as you approach, and if you
get within it's personal space, it'll fly off. Fawns are so terrified of humans that they freeze and play dead when you come near them. They
haven't even the will to flee or fight! But dolphins, for some wonderful, mysterious reason, this creature seems interested in us; it'll help us if
we find ourselves in need of help; it'll come towards us if we want to make contact with them; they even swim by our ships, as if in celebration of
our being present in their waters.
From an evolutionary perspective, this is completely incongruous. And indeed, it forces an approach different from how we understand other creatures.
Despite our lack of proximity and relatedness, dolphins feel comfortable around us. Most creatures experience anxiety - take a defensive stance of
fight/flight/freeze - when humans enter their vicinity. But dolphins don't. What are dolphins experiencing, or rather, doing, at a cognitive level,
that allows them to experience such safety? Are they natures daredevils? So used to being at the top of the food chain, and generally playful, that
their response towards humans is a flippant sui generis instinct? Or, is it possible, given dolphins reputation for magnanimity, that they possess
some type of reasoning ability that stifles reactions that don't seem warranted? The problem with this interpretation is that it doesn't seem to be
evolutionarily justifiable; what environmental process unique to dolphins forced this type of development? Why should a dolphin possess reason? What
usefulness does reason have to a dolphin?
Humans have reason because we possess unique characteristics that forced it's evolution. Simply take a look at the complexity of our experience - our
emotions, our desires - and for the sake of human sociability, for the sake of our own and collective good, reason emerged to advance those specific
interests. But what of dolphins? Clearly, this behavior they show towards humans is anomalous. No other creature is like that - in that they have no
good reason, no prior established relationship with human beings - to assume that we are safe (in fact, if they were observant, they'd assume the
I have no adequate answer. I can only point out the problems in anthropomorphizing dolphin behavior according to evolutionary theory.