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Human-Dolphin Partnership Reserve 84

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish dept.
ahbe writes that the Myanmar government recently established a protected reserve for partnering between fisherman and wild dolphins. From the article: "The fascinating partnership involves fishermen summoning the dolphins to voluntarily herd schools of fish toward the boats and awaiting nets. With the aid of the river-dwelling dolphins, the fishermen can increase the size of their catches by threefold, and the dolphins appear to benefit by more easily preying on the cornered fish in both nets and on the muddy banks of the river."
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Human-Dolphin Partnership Reserve

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  • So Long (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:14AM (#15599626)
    And thanks for all the fish.
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:28AM (#15599661) Homepage

    Just forty years ago Larry Niven, in his first book of Known Space, World of Ptaavs (now collected in the Three Books of Known Space [amazon.com] omnibus) had dolphins talking with humans and handling tools by means of various technological implants linked to the nervous system. It seemed to be taken for granted that dolphins were self-aware and just as intelligent as human beings, they just couldn't tell us so.

    Now, however, that idea is totally gone from speculative fiction. What research has been done in the last few decades that has removed hope that dolphins are really as smart as we once thought?

    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:51AM (#15599722) Homepage Journal
      Maybe it's the fact that chimps can do all that and more. It's just not all that exciting to have another sentient species to hang around with. Consider that although both chimps and dolphins are sentient, they're not necessarily interested in the same kind of things as humans are. Compare that to just about any "alien intelligence" that has appeared on Star Trek.
      • Consider that although both chimps and dolphins are sentient, they're not necessarily interested in the same kind of things as humans are.

        Sentient? By what definition?

      • Excuse me? Chimps can do all that and more? Perhaps you only know the difference between other primates and humans at a superficial level:

        - Chimpanzees are far stronger than humans (or for that matter, mountain lions), but there is no other animal that can throw a 95 mph fastball. That is not a random skill, it was a huge evolutionary advantage for us when hunting with tools such as spears and rocks. It requires demonstrably superior skills in preconscious coordination of shoulder and arm muscles. Wat

        • "all that and more" was refering to the technology Larry Niven described to enable Dolphins to do stuff the humans find interesting. The point being you don't need to give Dolphins advanced technology to find a sentient creature with interests similar to humans, the apes already exist.
    • by Inverted Intellect (950622) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:58AM (#15599738)
      Dolphins are pretty smart, all right. They have excellent social intelligence, even to the point of being able to communicate somewhat effectively with other species, most notably us humans.

      I've always found it relatively obvious why dolphins wouldn't develop very high intelligence as corresponds to that measured by IQ, which is generally called g. We humans evolved heightened intelligence because that's what we needed to be able to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and to exploit multiple sources of food. But why would dolphins really develop both the sort of intelligence, and the limbs, needed to make and handle tools (which I think is an important part of developing the g type of intelligence as that which is seen in humans)? Their only natural predators are sharks and orcas, and they've got those pretty well covered due to their excellent teamwork skills. Those lucky bastards are practically living in paradise!

      But then again, maybe we'd find that dolphins have the neccessary intelligence for toolmaking, if we just gave them some manipulators. That is to say hands.
      • by kv9 (697238) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @08:08AM (#15600087) Homepage

        Dolphins are pretty smart, all right.

        yes, but do they have frickin' lase... oh wait

      • i for one am in favour of breeding more sea predators as a program to increase dolphin predation, and also we need to start leaving cryptic aquatic rubics cube style puzzles around the ocean which dolphins can solve to be rewarded. truly we are gods.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        But then again, maybe we'd find that dolphins have the neccessary intelligence for toolmaking, if we just gave them some manipulators. That is to say hands.

        I would add: If we gave them hands, and turned them into animals completely inept at handling their natural environment.

        Fortunately, dolphins are like fish in water (pardon the pun) and I really don't think they'd need to create tools since they already pretty much master their environment.

      • by joeytsai (49613) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @12:53PM (#15600978) Homepage
        But why would dolphins really develop both the sort of intelligence, and the limbs, needed to make and handle tools (which I think is an important part of developing the g type of intelligence as that which is seen in humans)?


        Be glad that they didn't evolve in such a manner, or we would be screwed [theonion.com]. Start practicing your echolocation as soon as possible!
      • But then again, maybe we'd find that dolphins have the neccessary intelligence for toolmaking, if we just gave them some manipulators. That is to say hands. Many animals have the intelligence for making and using simple tools like sticks. The problem comes in the ability to use imagination. I've seen examples of simple puzzles that dolphins can't figure out and complex puzzles that they can.
        Case in point, you train a dolphin that they have to put two balls into a hole within 30 seconds of eachother in orde
      • ... that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons. -Doughlas Adams

        Smarter or not, dolphins have it right.
      • Well, if they started forming large groups and killing themselves, then they'd probably evolve our form of intelligence as well... afterall, the #1 natural enemy of human beings throughout the ages has been, well, human beings.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You do realise that this type of partnership doesn't demonstrate any special intelligence, don't you? Farmers have been using dogs to herd sheep for hundreds of years, but I don't see anybody suggesting that dogs are as intelligent as human beings.

    • by 2008 (900939)
      link [theonion.com]
    • by jani (4530) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @07:00AM (#15599993) Homepage
      Now, however, that idea is totally gone from speculative fiction.


      The idea was picked up again by the Uplift trilogies by David Brin; Sundiver (1980), Startide Rising (1983) and The Uplift War (1987); Brightness Reef (1995), Infinity's Shore (1996) and Heaven's Reach (1998). I suppose that Startide Rising and The Uplift War are the most notable. Baby seals will cry if you don't buy these books, but nobody else. ;)

      And of course, we have Douglas Adams.

      I wouldn't call the idea "totally gone", just not overwhelmingly popular or compelling.
    • Just forty years ago Larry Niven...had dolphins talking with humans and handling tools ...
      But it turns out that dolphins are a little too bright to get sucked into either of these dead-end activities.
    • What research has been done in the last few decades that has removed hope that dolphins are really as smart as we once thought?

      I don't know about research that's removed hope, but I've read some that's given hope. Just recently even:

      2006: Dolphins have their own names [bbc.co.uk] 2005: Dolphin Moms Teach Daughters to Use Tools [nationalgeographic.com]

      However I doubt dolphins will be officially recognised as people any time soon, for any number of reasons (legal, religious, diet, greed, etc). It's hard enough convincing some folks that a

  • Win-win? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Balancing the protection of a critically endangered wildlife population with local livelihoods and preservation of a unique cultural tradition is a win-win situation for all.
    The fish might have a differing opinion on that.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:41AM (#15599693) Homepage
    ...that this was something that George W. would disapprove or write a constitutional amendment about.

    But now that I see it's about taking advantage of nature's resources by utilizing the intelligence of others, I'm pretty sure he'd be behind it.
    • ...that this was something that George W. would disapprove or write a constitutional amendment about.

      But now that I see it's about taking advantage of nature's resources by utilizing the intelligence of others, I'm pretty sure he'd be behind it.


      I think it goes far beyond that. I think he practices it personally a lot.
  • No surprise (Score:4, Funny)

    by Negative Response (650136) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:42AM (#15599696)
    This really should be expected, them dolphins being the second most intelligent on the Earth and all, you know, next only to mice.
    • Re:No surprise (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zbyte64 (720193)
      Reminds me of the Futurama episode where they all gathered to eat a dophin and one objected saying that the dolphin was intelligent - but then someone said the dolphin wasted his money on lottery tickets.

      Joking aside...

      There was this documentary about how these doplhins would use a similiar tactic just instead of a net they would use the bank of the shore line and the dolphins would temporarly bank themselves to catch fish. Scientists were baffled by how this was started. Now its obvios, doplhins are just p
      • OMG DOLPHINS (Score:1, Insightful)

        by uvajed_ekil (914487)
        There was this documentary about how these doplhins would use a similiar tactic just instead of a net they would use the bank of the shore line and the dolphins would temporarly bank themselves to catch fish. Scientists were baffled by how this was started. Now its obvios, doplhins are just plain smart!

        I remember seeing that because the sight of dolphins leaping up onto the muddy banks to grab stranded fish was really something! A localized group of dolphins innovating to maximize the resources available

  • Dolphins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bloke down the pub (861787) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:44AM (#15599702)
    I forget the exact wording, but it goes something like: "Humans invented war, the M25 and Windows while the dolphins were just playing in the water and eating fish. On the other hand, the dolphins considered themselves more intelligent - for precisely the same reasons".

    And I for one welcome our new cetacean overlords.
    • Re:Dolphins (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:10AM (#15599759)
      If you are going to quote the good book [amazon.com], please get it right.

      For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons.
    • I believe that was from the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:44AM (#15599704)
    Human/Dolphin partnerships are just the first step on the Dolphin agenda! Soon they will begin having parades and demanding marriage, and that will destory the sanctity of marriage! Marriage should be between a human and a human! Adam and Steve, not Adam and OOOEEEEEE-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-AAAAAAAA!

      Eve, I mean! Adam and Eve! I'm not gay. No one who's a good Christian is ever gay, understand? Ok. Just wanted to clear that up.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:00AM (#15599741) Homepage Journal
    partnering between fisherman and wild dolphins.

    this is just too perverse...
    • partnering between fisherman and wild dolphins.

      this is just too perverse...


      What about this petition [petitiononline.com]
      • by whoop (194)
        I find it funny that there are Google ads of "Bush vs Clinton" on the remarks from signatures. That's gotta say something about something, AdSense knows all.
    • A long time ago I found a post here on Slashdot with a signature that pointed to some domain like dolphinsex.org (I checked, they're all parked by ad whores), that went into far too much detail about how to do just that, what it was like, etc. It's got to be out there somewhere still. Funny, yet scarey, that someone typed up that long essay, true or not...
  • by johnnywheeze (792148) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:00AM (#15599743)
    Usefulness to humans seems to be a huge evolutionary advantage.

    There's also a small population of Irawaddy Dolphins in the Mekong river where Laos Cambodia and Thailand meet. They also have a population less than 100.

    Sadly, being useful to local fishermen is probably the only way these creatures will be allowed to continue to exist, as human beings aren't really keen on cutting pollution, not building dams, and protecting the fisheries. Currently they're on parole from a very small tourism industry around viewing them.

    Hopefully more fishermen will pick this up and they will become as common as elephants, water buffalo and the other useful creatures around here.

  • by jeremymiles (725644) * on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:01AM (#15599873) Homepage Journal
    TFA is extremely short on details.
    • How does one summon dolphins? How do the dolphins know that they are to 'herd' the fish into the nets?
    • How do the dolphins not get caught in the same nets?
    • If herding the fish means the dolphins get more to eat, why do they need to do this into the nets? Why not use a small bay to do this? If the dolphins didn't come across this in a couple of million years of evolution, well, they really are dim
    • How come more respectable news sources haven't picked up on this E.g. the http://news.bbc.co.uk/ [bbc.co.uk] or http://www.newscientist.com/ [newscientist.com]. They've both shown themselves to take a pretty relaxed line on checking the credibility of stories ( toothing [wikipedia.org] or Nanniebot [newscientist.com] anyone?. Even Google News [google.co.uk] gives us only one hit.

      Nice idea though, and it would be cool if it were true.

    • How does one summon dolphins?

      Why, I would believe that it is customary to use a +1 Coral Wand of Dolphin Summoning.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      it ain't bullshit. I've seen a documentary showing it.

      the fishermen call the dolphins by hitting oars on the water. and don't ask me why, but dolphins do come (sometimes when they are around probably)
      and they donc get caught in the nets cause it's nets to catch short fishes and it's short nets. well what I saw on tv were short nets put by people, not with boats.

      and it's good for the dolphins cause they do get lots of fishes in the process.
    • "the fishermen can increase the size of their catches by threefold, and the dolphins appear to benefit by more easily preying on the cornered fish in both nets and on the muddy banks of the river."

      Yeah, hurray, the dolphins get an easier catch for how long? 20 minutes? Than they lost even more fish due to humans taking up 3 times as much as usuall. Hurray! Good day for the dolphins.

      Fucking stupid people who catch and eat fish from a fleet which is way to large for what the seas can handle. What will you do
      • do like the US and subsidize fishing so the fishermen can continue to survive at the trade for far longer than the ocean can support and prevent simple ecconomics from preventing overharvest of particular ocean bounties by causing fishermen to rotate their catches.
  • when they said: So long and thanks for all the fish.
  • If anything can rile up the conservative base, it's the thought of human-dolphin partnerships. I guess when he said "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully," GWB he conveniently left out aquatic mammals, leaving an issue open for election years!
  • Actually, the idea of dolphins having near or equal to human intelligence was being bandied about in a pretty high profile setting as recently as 1996. Remember Seaquest DSV?

    I swear, that must have been the easiest show ever to pitch:

    A TV executive taps his pen absently, briefly pursing his lips as he scans Roy Scheider's name off a proposed cast list. The lights dim. A lone desk lamp throws light up on a couple of jittery, curly-haired men with bad suits and an overlarge portfolio that'll never be

    • Darwin the dolphin is not a gag but rather a thought out statement to attract the audience into respecting animals more by humanizing them. The SeaQuest show took advantage of promising science and speculated about advancements in marine technology and yes, inter-species translation apparently, to increase harmony with the ocean and its creatures. And the first season wasn' that bad!
      • Agreed on all points (especially the first season comment) but I'll go you one farther: Darwin is still the best realized "alien" crewmember in any scifi tv series. His psychology is distinctly nonhuman but comprehensible. He requires a different physical environment to live in. He communicates through a translation system, which is never treated as a babelfish-style magic bullet. Plus, he's just plain not a one to two meter tall biped. Usually, this sort of character would be treated as a pet, but whe

        • In season 1, there's an episode where they setup an additional translation system with a laser that monitors his back tail flipper and creates video images out of it. That's the one with William Shatner's autistic kid. The other one that I've seen that showed off Darwin's psychology was about a former prodigy who steals Darwin in order to research his circle theory of the universe. He looks at dolphins as holding the secret. It turns out to be a touching, elegant dialogue between Darwin and the obsessed
  • The Burmese Government is more likely trying to use this to bring in tourists and try to make people forget that they are a brutally repressive regime, that habitually lies to their people and outsiders.
  • by ecloud (3022)
    I think the government should set some pretty restrictive quotas on commercial fishing in both oceans and inland water bodies, and do something to encourage fish farming (in ponds, not pre-existing rivers). Otherwise some species are going to go extinct. This form of commercial greed is really getting outrageous, and this story is just one more example of it. Eating lots of fish is very good for us humans, but the planet can't keep up with the number of people anymore. It's time to find alternatives to
  • by The Wicked Priest (632846) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:32AM (#15605041)
    I've read speculation that the unusual friendliness of dolphins towards humans stems from our being fishing partners long ago. (Also, speculation that human hairlessness and "blubber" is the result of our ancestors spending a great deal of time in the water.)

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