India officially recognizes dolphins as “non-human” persons

India has now joined Chile, Hungary, and Cost Rica as the fourth nation to ban “dolphinariums and other commercial entertainment that involves the capture and confinement of cetacean species such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins” (dw.de).  The government points to research it says clearly proves dolphins possess a level of intelligence which qualifies them as “non-human” persons. As a result, the species is entitled to certain inalienable rights.

The move is not only a major victory for animal activists, but further proof that human beings are not the only intelligent creatures on Earth. Lori Marino – a leading marine scientist and one of the signatories of the Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans – has conducted extensive research on dolphin culture. Her findings suggest dolphins are as self aware as we are. They not only recognize their own reflections and utilize tools, they are capable of understanding complex ideas and assign each other “names” just like human beings.

Dolphins are now seen as "hon-human" persons in India

Dolphins have now been granted “personhood” in India. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dolphintursiops.jpg

There is a popular belief that dolphins also have a degree of telepathic power. Whether or not that fantastic notion is true, a great deal of evidence exists supporting the natural therapeutic effect of these mysterious mammals. In a 2000 article from The Telegraph, Bill Bowel recounts his twelve-year-long battle with severe depression. Despite counseling and medications, Bill did not see any signs of improvement. Then, after being invited to take part in a dolphin healing session, Bill experienced a dramatic reversal. Following his tender, emotional meeting with the dolphin named “Simmo,” Bill went on to swim with dolphins several more times. His crippling depression disappeared and he managed to return to work, now completely free of medication.

In that same article, a 1991 case is presented which strongly suggests dolphin interaction may “speed up learning in autistic children.” Eve Hanf-Enos, diagnosed with autism at the age of one, could not communicate with words until she was fourteen. After spending only an hour in dolphin therapy, Eve spoke her very first word – “good.” And just recently, news has surfaced that a 27-year-old woman from South Carolina will be undergoing a “dolphin-assisted birth” (New York Post).

What does the future hold for the human-dolphin bond? Have we only begun to understand the incredible healing powers that dolphins possess? Will interspecies communication be a reality one day? And if two intelligent creatures can exist on the same planet, what does that mean for the likelihood of life throughout the cosmos?

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