On the Brink Radio

By Jeff Wasserman

This is my first interview with Ed Ellsworth, who worked with Dr. John C. Lilly’s dolphin communication group in California in the early to mid 1980’s. We discuss the work of the Human/Dolphin Foundation, what exactly the procedures and goals were, what it was like being around Joe and Rosie, the two dolphins who ‘volunteered’ for Lilly’s research, with ‘celebrity swims’ taking place in between the communications work. We talk a lot about the issues of cetaceans in captivity, and of capture and release activities.

Ed describes what the J.A.N.U.S. configuration was all about (Joint Analog-Numerical Understanding System)and gives some specifics on what they were actually trying to do, which was in essence not to ‘decode’ dolphin communication, nor to teach them English or any other human language, but to work interactively to co-create a new form of communication based on sound and using computers to perform real-time frequency transformations. Ed was involved with the release of Joe and Rosie several years later. But more interesting than the historical work with Dr. Lilly’s group, Ed’s ideas on cetacean consciousness are very interesting, and his speculations on what hump-back whales are actually ‘singing’ about, in his view they may be ‘stories’ akin to cetacean Iliads or Odysseys. This resonates with my own beliefs and intuitions. I asked Ed what he thought the main message the cetaceans had for us was, and he said ‘Compassion.’ Well said, Ed.

Ed put me onto a really good documentary called ‘For the Love of Dolphins’ that looks like it was made in the late 80’s, here is the link:


Dolphin Matrix

Watch the trailer for the ‘beyond film’ about whales and dolphins that Jeff Wasserman is working on.

Pink Dolphins

Taiwan’s critically endangered pink dolphins

The first scientific study of Taiwan’s pink dolphins (Sousa chinensis), otherwise known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins or, locally, as “Matsu’s Fish”, was carried out in 2002. But FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group have already shown that the population, which is resident in shallow waters along Taiwan’s west coast, is tiny (less than 70), isolated and distinct from other pink dolphin populations in the region – and in serious trouble.

In August 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the population as Critically Endangered. In fact, all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are protected under Taiwanese law. But legal protection is meaningless without action, and this population will edge closer and closer towards extinction as long as Taiwan’s government allows the degradation of the dolphins habitat to continue.

(Tip: Go to Google Earth and zoom in on Taiwan’s west coast to get an idea of the extent of artificial modification that has already occurred there.)

The main threats to the dolphins are:
1. Loss of habitat (through land reclamation)
2. Water and air pollution (dolphins are air-breathing mammals)
3. Interactions with fishing gear (cetaceans can get entangled in fishing nets and drown or suffer injuries)
4. Underwater noise (dolphins depend on sound for survival)
5. Reduction of freshwater flow into the estuaries within their habitat (freshwater and sediment from rivers help to make estuaries some of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world)

Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union is a coalition of six Taiwanese not-for-profit, non-governmental grassroots organizations established in January 2007 to push for action to protect Taiwans pink dolphins and west coast environment. The member groups are: Taiwan Academy of Ecology; Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association; Taiwan Environmental Protection Union; Changhua Coast Conservation Action; Taiwan Sustainable Union; and Wild Bird Society of Yunlin.

Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union does what it can with very limited resources, in the face of overwhelming government support for even more industrial development and destructive fishing practices within the dolphins’ 200 km-long coastal habitat. So far we have succeeded in pushing the government to hold interagency meetings to address the issue, to consider the dolphins in Environmental Impact Assessments for development projects, and to act with greater caution when planning major industrial expansion within the area. Whenever someone is preparing to make a decision that may impact the population, we’re up in Taipei monitoring proceedings, delivering the latest scientific information and lobbying for real public participation, including participation by the people who will be directly affected by increasing pollution levels along Taiwan’s west coast.

But although the government is now paying attention, if we don’t maintain pressure – international pressure – to reduce human impacts, those projects will still go ahead and the dolphins will continue on their current path towards extinction.

We urgently need donations to support our lobbying, educational and protest activities and the essential long-term dolphin monitoring project that provides information on how the dolphins are doing. We are currently fundraising for the 2010 pink dolphin monitoring project and for 2010 campaign funds. Your donation will be greatly appreciated, wisely spent and will help us protect these beautiful dolphins as well as countless other lives and the integrity of the extensive ecosystem that supports them.

Donations to MFCU can be made via its secretariat, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association.

For more information, please write to: comment@wildatheart.org.twor visit our websites:
MFCU (English): http://taiwansousa.blogspot.com
MFCU (Mandarin): http://twsousa.blogspot.com
Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association:http://en.wildatheart.org.tw

To receive updates and help spread the word, join our Facebook group “Save the Taiwan Humpback Dolphin”.

Hanji Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_UQgu…

Evolve To Ecology

dolphin surface…mentioned you in a comment on Facebook

Evolve To Ecology wrote: “Here, http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/local/new-study-dolphins-have-names-for-each-other-too/article_9ead0d52-7c71-11e2-b098-001a4bcf6878.html. I don’t like how they retained them for some hours to do this study but its better I suppose than keeping them in captivity, not sure why with ll the research conducted on wild dolphins and captive ones no one has picked up on them having signature whistles (names)for one another before. There are also these two interviews from way back on my podcast. In Defense of Dolphins with Dr Thomas White. http://sailingbeyondknowledge.podomatic.com/entry/2010-01-23T18_19_46-08_00 and Diving into the World of Dolphins with Ed Ellsworth http://sailingbeyondknowledge.podomatic.com/entry/2010-01-15T06_29_09-08_00

For the Love of Dolphins

Please enjoy this program, For the Love of Dolphins, featuring Dr. John C. Lilly and Ed Ellsworth. I worked as the research consultant for this project with Patricia Sims, the producer of this show. It originally aired on the Discovery Channel. I took our team to the various researchers and locations included in the program. I was also interviewed regarding my work as a dolphin researcher with Dr. John C. Lilly and the Human/Dolphin Foundation. – Ed Ellsworth

Gray whales on northbound migration

Source: Los Angeles Times

If you missed seeing the gray whales as they swam south to Baja California for the winter, now may be your chance to catch them on their way back north.

Volunteer spotters say the whales’ northbound migration through Southern California is reaching a peak. Clear weather helped them count 50 gray whales cruising north past Point Vicente on Monday, their highest tally since last year’s peak on March 21, when they saw 64.

“There’s a big pulse going through right now,” said Alisa Schulman-Janiger, director and coordinator of the American Cetacean Society/Los Angeles Chapter’s Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project, which logs whale sightings from the Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes.

More than 20,000 gray whales migrate each year from Arctic waters to the shallow lagoons and bays of Baja California and reverse course each spring, with the bulk cruising back through Southern California by late March.

If past trends hold true, sometime this week should be a good time to head out to look for them, according to those who keep tabs on the migratory giants.

But they warn that seeing a bunch of gray whales today is no guarantee you’ll see them tomorrow.

“A group will come through and then we won’t see any for a while,” Schulman-Janiger said. “Sometimes the pulse is spread out over several weeks or you can have one-third of the migration in one day.

The one thing you can’t do about animal behavior is predict it,” she added.


More Dead Dolphins in the Gulf

More Dead Dolphins in the Gulf Raises Questions

Scientists have found four more dead baby dolphins on Horn Island in the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico and another on Ono Island off Orange Beach, Alabama, adding to the unusually high number of dead dolphins found in the past two months.