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:
FOR THE LOVE OF DOLPHINS
Watch the trailer for the ‘beyond film’ about whales and dolphins that Jeff Wasserman is working on.