Adapted from the Introduction to "Communication Between Man and Dolphin"

  • A history of killing
  • Biology of the last century
  • Fragility of the large brain
  • Enlarged macrocomputers
  • New beliefs about Cetacea
  • Call to action
  • I INVITE YOU TO ENTERTAIN SOME NEW BELIEFS about dolphins. Many of the young new generation believe as I do; many do not so believe. Here we give the basis for these beliefs--experience, experiment, and deductions therefrom.

    As the accumulated facts about the structure of the brains and of the behavior of the Cetacea have become integrated, beliefs about them have been constructed and realized quite counter to those held by many biologists and many keepers of dolphins and whales in oceanaria. In brief, this new belief claims:

    these Cetacea with huge brains are more intelligent than any man or woman.
    The old beliefs have been based upon ignorance and lack of direct personal experience with dolphins and whales.

    In the past mankind's beliefs led to clashes about politics, about territory, about religion, about the law, about relationships between man and woman. The new beliefs about the Cetacea lead to problems--personal, political, and social in addition to scientific.


    Man is changing the planet. He has a history of killing off all of the large mammals of the land. The large mammals of North America were extinguished by man. The African species are being decimated by the encroachment of man upon their territories. In the seas the pelagic mammals are being critically depleted as man invades their territories and hauls their bodies ashore for his purposes.

    In the past (before 1965) I felt that the scientific viewpoint of total objectivity, of the noninvolved scientific observer, was the be-all and end-all for one's life. I am no longer convinced that such a dispassionate noninvolved view of ecology will ever work. A scientist who fails to assume social responsibility, the feedback from all other members of his species, is not taking the responsibility of being a human being beyond a limited selfserving role in society. Involvement and participation are absolutely essential for understanding and for survival of self and of one's own species.

    We need a new ethic, new laws based on those ethics which punish human beings for encroachment on the life-styles and the territory of other species with brains comparable to and larger than ours. We need modifications of our laws so that the Cetacea can no longer become the property of individuals, corporations, or governments. Even as the respect for human individuals is growing in our law, so must the respect for individual whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

    The explosive-propelled and exploding harpoon, entering the flesh of the whale and causing it to emit great quantities of blood from his blowhole, is a recurrent nightmare for more and more humans. The death cries of whales are heard around the world under water and are ignored by those who cause them. Those who believe that they are killing to provide huge reservoirs of flesh for industrial use rather than killing the largest, most sophisticated brains on the planet, somehow must change their beliefs; their killing must be prevented by giving the cetaceans the same legal protections as humans.

    Those who catch and imprison dolphins must modify what they are doing to allow more communication between the imprisoned dolphins and their families and friends in the sea. If any dolphins and whales are to be kept captive, their captivity should be for only an agreed-upon, limited time, after which they should be released to their natural habitat to communicate man's activities to their fellows. I envision the day when the current oceanaria will progress from being "prisons" for dolphins to being interspecies schools, educating both dolphins and humans about one another.


    Let us contrast two sets of clashing beliefs that cause today's controversies among humans regarding whales and dolphins.

    The first beliefs derive from the biology of the last century before much was known about the anatomy of brains and how brains operate. Brains were weighed, bodies were weighed, length of bodies measured, various calculations were made of brain weight, body weight, and body length on the Cetacea (and on land mammals). These gross measures were then plotted as brain weight versus body weight on an X-Y graph. Certain trends were found in these data that showed that, in certain species, as the brain size increased so did the body size, according to certain simple relations. Plotting them in these ways and calculating them according to certain rules leaves no doubt that there are such relationships.

    However, an unwarranted simple assumption crept into the use of such plots: a large body needed a large brain. Hence the size of brain is not a measure of its intelligence or computational capacity. Practically no one bothered to ask why, in the evolution of our planet, the big brains in the large bodies survive and why the large brains in small bodies do not survive. There are no large brains in small bodies existing today.


    It was not until this century that we began to realize the incredible delicacy and fragility of the structure of the brain, especially the very large brains. This most complicated organ of the body needs great protection from blows to its container, from changes in temperature, and from deprivation of oxygen and food supplies.

    During World War II it was found that rotatory forces of sufficient intensity on the human head cause extensive damage to the brain: angular acceleration and resulting displacement set up shearing stresses within the brain, tearing it and possibly damaging its blood vessels. It was found that the smaller brains (those of monkeys) required higher acceleration to damage them by rotatory means. As the brains became larger, it was necessary to attach much larger masses to their container to protect them by reducing these rotatory forces within the critical limits that avoid damage. A glancing blow on a very large object causes less rotation acceleration than the same blow on a smaller object: the sheer stresses conducted to the brain are limited by the size of the attached mass.

    As the brains grew larger over the millennia they became more and more susceptible to rotatory forces that would tear their structure unless they were tied to masses that were large enough to prevent these damaging levels of rotational acceleration.

    The larger the brain the greater the vulnerability to damage and the greater the need to slow down rotatory acceleration of the head containing the brain.

    These considerations can be used to show that a large brain in a small body and a light head is very precarious and probably cannot survive for any length of time on this planet under gravity and the rotatory forces due to motion of the particular body. As the brain becomes larger, so the bone surrounding it must become thicker and the head more massive to protect the increased mass of biocomputer (brain) from the acceleratory forces that can destroy it. The larger biocomputers are more easily injured by rotational forces than the small ones.

    Thus, the evolutionary pressures in the mechanical environment of the huge biocomputers allowed only the large brains with large protective masses surrounding them to survive on the planet, both in the water and on the land. On the land the elephant's very large brain (6,000 grams) is surrounded by a huge skull and a very large body, which cannot be moved in the rotatory acceleration sense beyond a certain critical limit with the forces normally found in the animal's environment. As the brain in a growing elephant becomes more massive, so do the surrounding bone and the size of the body increase to absorb the rotatory acceleratory forces.

    The same limiting rotational acceleration law applies in the sea. If one watches an underwater movie of dolphins and of giant whales, one quickly sees the differences in small as opposed to large brains in these rotatory acceleratory forces. The dolphins in their swimming move and twist and turn with high velocities and high accelerations; in contrast, the giant whales have a slow, majestic movement. Their ballet is grandly deliberate. One can see the limitations in the acceleratory forces in spite of the huge musculature. From such movies one can compute the natural limits imposed on rotatory accelerations for a given brain size and for the bodies housing and protecting them.

    In the biological science of the past and of the present such considerations have not always entered into the thinking of the cetologists or of the delphinologists. The application of Newtonian rotational mechanics to these problems is lagging behind other knowledge of the Cetacea. The knowledge of brains and their upper limit of acceleratory forces comes from medical research studies on smaller animals and on man himself. The time has come for the biologists to start to apply such thinking to large brains and the bodies housing them. The evolutionary selective pressures for and against survival of large brains are not yet fully understood.

    Such considerations enlarge biological beliefs heyond their current limits, dictated hy the biology of the nineteenth century.

    A dramatic confirmation of these mechanical forces is seen when the very large brain is removed from a dead whale. A nine- thousand-gram brain from a sperm whale is an incredibly fragile structure when removed from the braincase. If one merely rotates the vessel in which it is contained, one can see sheer stress lines and distortions of the structure appear on its surface and within its depths. If one then contrasts this with a removed human brain, it is evident that one can rotate the human hrain at a greater rate of acceleration hefore the same kinds of stress appear within the structure. If one rotates a small monkey brain, one can use a much greater rate of acceleration than one can with the human before such stress and strain appear within it.

    This way of looking at large brains suggests that biology must critically examine all of the parameters of survival of large brains. Presumptions derived from simple correlations between brain weight, body weight, and body length simply have no relevance to brain survival.


    One other facet that is missing from the usual biological beliefsystem about Cetacea is knowledge of the structure of brains themselves: where they enlarge when they are very large and how they are used once they are enlarged. As Von Bonin pointed out many years ago, the correlations between brain size and body size do not involve the psychological parameters needed to know how these brains are used. Recent findings give us some clues about the functioning of large brains.

    In brief, the large brains are enlarged in the areas of cortex devoted to the higher levels of computation over and above those present in the smaller brains. In extensive series of studies on the primate and human brains, it has been shown that the small brains in small primate bodies directly control those bodies. The neocortex is all sensory and motor in brains the size of the macaque monkey (100 grams).

    In the next larger set of primate brains, those of the chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan, something new has been added over and above the sensory and the motor neocortex. At this brain size (three hundred to four hundred grams) the new areas are not connected directly to either input or GUtpUt as in the smaller brain. These new areas are called the silent, or associational, brain areas. In the chimpanzee these areas have been shown to be correlational, computational areas that use the surrounding sensory-motor cortices in the service of longer-term calculations than those the smaller brains are capable of.

    In modern parlance the monkey has the minimum-sized minicomputer, designed for control of the primate body, including the use of an opposable thumb and the leading of a very active climbing social life. This sensory-motor neocortical minicomputer is maintained in the set of larger brains in the chimpanzee and the human. The new silent associational cortices distributed among the sensory-motor cortex is a macrocomputer, a larger-sized computer running the minicomputer in the service of long-term calculatzons; the time span of memory, of the term of planned action, and the number of calculable future contingencies increases as the macrocomputer increases in size.

    For man the macrocomputer (the silent areas) increases above that of the chimpanzee. The increased size of man's macrocomputer creates the potential of calculations going further into the past and further into the future, conditioning the present action on the longer past experience and the longer future plans. When these areas are removed in man (such as in frontal lobotomy), the motivation of and the initiation of such long-term considerations and computations disappear. With enough damage to the macrocomputer the individual's time scale, past and future, decreases and hence clusters closely around the present.

    In the sea among the Cetacea there is a continuous spectrum of brain sizes ranging from the ape size all the way up to six times the human size (in the sperm whale). Among the large variety (fifty-two species) of dolphins and toothed whales there are brain sizes ranging from the ape size through the human size to the superhuman level of four to six times the human size.

    Careful studies by Dr. Peter J. Morgane, Dr. Paul Yakovlev, and Dr. Sam Jacobs (36) have shown that the larger cetacean brains are enlarged only in the macrocomputer, the associational silent cortex. In the largest of the cetacean brains the macrocomputer is all that has been added to the mass of that brain; the minicomputer corresponds to that of the smaller cetacean species. The cellular neuronal networks are essentially the same as those of the human.


    Therefore, we deduce that the human-sized brains in Cetacea correspond to human computational power and that the larger cetacean brains are capable of extensions of computations into the past and into the future beyond the range of the human. Such considerations as these generate new beliefs about dolphins, whales, and porpoises:

    1. In the large range of brain sizes in the Cetacea the smallest Cetacea correspond in their computational capacities to the apes.

    2. Those whose brains are as large as human (Tursiops, etc.) have computational capacities similar to the human regarding the use of past and future in current computations.

    3. In those brains larger than the human (orca, sperm whale, etc.) the computational capacities exceed those of the human regarding past and future used in computations of the current situation.

    4. Man's current consensus judgments about the Cetacea are too limited. His knowledge of cetacean intelligence and computational capacities, and of the necessities for survival in the sea are primitive and incomplete. As yet, man is not capable of understanding the ecological truth recognized by the Cetacea, as proved by their ancient solution to their survival. At the least their record of adaptation to their environment is as successful as man's adaptation to his for a period of time at least twenty times as great as that of man's existence on earth.

    5. The Cetacea are sensitive, compassionate, ethical, philosophical, and have ancient vocal histories that their young must learn.

    6. Cetacean knowledge of humans is restricted to experiences in the sea between the Cetacea and human ships of warfare, yachts, catcher boats, and so forth. Very few, if any, Cetacea have experienced man on land and then been returned to the sea. Therefore, their communications in the sea about us, their knowledge of us, is incomplete. Their judgments about us would be based on their communications and experiences with whaling, the capture of dolphins, explosions in the sea, oil spills, ships and their propeller noises blocking their communications, and undersea warfare with destruction of Cetacea by submarines and by military aircraft.

    7. The Cetacea realize that man is incredibly dangerous in concert. It is such considerations as these that may give rise to their behavioral ethic that the bodies of men are not to be injured or destroyed, even under extreme provocation. If the whales and dolphins began to injure and kill humans in the water, I am sure that the Cetacea realize that our navies would then wipe them out totally, at a faster rate than the whaling industry is doing at the present time.

    8. Thus, we deduce that the whales have a knowledge of man, fragmentary as it is, which they weave into theories and into accounts of direct experiences in a way similar to the way we develop knowledge of one another. In spite of the fact that they have no writing, no external records, they probably, because of their large brains, have extremely long memories and the capacity to integrate these memories equal to and better than our own.

    9. Paleontological evidence shows that the whales and the dolphins have been here on this planet a lot longer than has man. Dolphins (like the current Tursiops) have been here on the order of fifteen million years with brain sizes equal to and greater than that of modern man. Apparently some whale and dolphin brains became the equal of that of present-day man and then passed man's current size about thirty million years ago. Secure human skulls in large numbers with a cranial capacity equal to present man are found only as far back as one hundred fifty thousand years. Thus we see that man is a still evolving latecomer to this planet. He may not survive as long as the Cetacea have survived. (Man may also ensure that the whales will cease surviving within the next generation or two.)


    Considerations such as these at times make some men of science and of compassion feel anger and guilt for their own species. One can begin to lose hope that anyone can do much about this situation, for those who are aware are very much in the minority on this planet. Those few who have the requisite knowledge may be too late to stop the killing of Cetacea and to initiate new programs of cooperation and communication with the Cetacea.

    This website is an attempt to present the basis for these beliefs and their current details insofar as possible. It is hoped that the contents of the books and website will become known widely enough to help start programs of research on communication with the Cetacea. Such programs can be designed to find out who they are, what they think, what they talk about. In the process of publicizing the program and its results it may then be possible to stop the killing; only then will man's need to educate the Cetacea and to be educated by the Cetacea flower in new schools, industries, and government.

    So in this website we present what is known, and we suggest guidelines for future interspecies work between man and Cetacea.

    It is hoped that the coming generation will recognize that that is probably one of the greatest and most ennobling challenges that face man on this planet today. To be able to break through to understand the thinking, the feeling, the doing, the talking of another species is a grand, noble achievement that will change man's view of himself and of his planet.

    Seventy-one percent of the surface of our planet is covered with oceans, inhabited by the Cetacea. Let us learn to live in harmony with that seventy-one percent of the planet and its intelligent, sensitive, sensible, and long- surviving species of dolphins, whales, and porpoises.