Prior to the Maraget Howe,-Peter Dolphin co-habitation experiment, there was Margaret and Pam.

The Mind of the Dolphin
Library of Congress CCN 67-10417

Living with a Dolphin
Seven Days and Nights with Pam


A prelimiary seven days and seven nights with a dolphin was arranged with Margaret Howe. The aims of this experiment were to test human and dolphin tolerance to a set depth (sixteen inches) of sea water, to find particulars of human needs such as clothing, food, fresh water, dry items (pens, paper, books), to find the limits of human tolerance of sleeping on wet bed in wet clothing, to see progress in human- dolphin relationship during such close living, to continue vocal lessons with dolphin and record same, and show vocal progress under such conditions.

The following is Miss Howe's account of this period:

In sixteen inches of water a human can maneuver, walk, work at a desk' sit in a chair, eat.

It was shown in this experiment, however, that at least with this particular dolphin, sixteen inches is not enough to allow her back' over a period of time, to remain wet enough for a normal, healthy skin. Pamela could have kept wet by constantly bobbing and causing waves to wash over her back. A tiresome task and Pam chose not to. Her back at the end of the week was not seriously dried and cracked, but it was bad enough to show that longer exposure to this environment wouId lead to trouble.

In this depth there is a limit to the maneuvering a dolphin can do. Jumping, swishing around, high-speed swimmmg are limited if not eliminated. It must be remembered that Pamela, at the time of the experiment, had an injured fiipper and was going through a very inactive period. I believe that a healthy animaI with no injuries wou]d, after not very long, go "stir crazy" and long for deep enough water to leap and dive in. I feel that this should be available to her or him.

This depth (sixteen inches) seems rather ideal for the human: it is shallow enough to walk in without any great hindrance. (Knee-deep water is very difficult to walk in. Sixteen inches is midway up my calf, 19 1/2 inches is at my knee joint. ) It is shallow enough to allow a chair to sit in it with the seat above the waterline. It is shallow enough so that normal splashes made by the dolphin rolling or turning over are not high enough to reach human things_desk, papers, TV, etc. It is deep enough to allow humans to sit and float with ease and therefore get "down next to" the dolphin. And a small point but important in this experiment: it is deep enough so that when sittmg in the chair I could drop my hand loosely over the side and have it im the water, thus affording Pam an opportunity to rub my hand.

I would recommend that in the final experiment, sixteen inches of water flood the entire house. There must also be, however, a deeper (thirty inch) passageway through the house in which the dolphin can travel and maneuver; thus he could lie in "his'' space in the kitchen, watching you, decide to come to you, and simply go from thirty inches to sixteen inches of water to do so.

I also recommend somewhere in the house a deep pool, at least six feet deep for the dolphin "to be a dolphin in." This should be connected to the other waters. While thinking of all this I have also thought about walls and doors.

A special "dolphin door'> is used by both humans and dolphins The open space under the door has double purposes: 1. humans walking through the doorway will not have to pull the door against the weight of the water; all of the swinging part of the door will be in air; 2. the bottom of the door is higher than sixteen inches above the water level to afford the dolphin dorsal fin space to go through with the door closed.

Living for a week is very different from living for a year or more. However, from my experience I have found that clothing --wet suits, top and bottom and two-piece so that one can be removed -- is vitally important in a room where air temperature is between 78_F and 83_F. I found leotards good for drying s,peed and protection (warmth), but the top piece fits too closely through the crotch. It was from this garment that I got so chapped. I am not sure, however, that a looser garment would solve this problem. Loose garments can chap too . . . they even rub the skiin more. One note on bras: hooks on the back can tend to "wilt' and I found that one was at a bad angle and was digging into my back. 1 had to bend it back into place several times. A bra without hooks would be good . . . but elastic would not hold up either. A problem.

It is very important, even during one week to have dry clothes available. Shorts, shirts, anything. The human is used to changing clothes and feelmg "fresh," and just because the clothes will end up wet 95 percent of the time is no reason to assume that there is no reason for change. Wet clothes get a soggy feel to them after a while, and it is desirable to get into dry clothes and then get them wet. They will not have the same soggy, rundown feel. Example: it is desirable to change daytime clothes to sleep clothes, and in the morning to change from sleep clothes to daytime clothes. The outfit is unimportant, the wetness of the clothes is unimportant . . . the change is very important. I recommend more experiments on what clothes are comfortable when wet. That a supply of clothes be available. At the house or an outside source there should be a setup to handle the laundry problem. Include sheets (not necessary), towels, blankets, quilts, etc. (see discussion on sleeping), all of which must be attended to.

I found that during this week I did not covet fresh water as much as I thought I would. I vvas seldom thirsty, not that I was seldom overheated. I did need fresh water for washing my face in the morning, and for my teeth; (saltwater toothpaste is so-so and promises to get boring after a period of time). I did not rinse my hands with fresh water before reading, writing, and so forth. Perhaps this should be done as I did have slight discomfort with my fingers, probably from constant salt contact.

I recommend fresh-water taps in each room. Bathroom with fresh-water shower. Clean hair, and body become important even after one week although not desperate. But long range . . . shower would become very important. None of these fresh-water outlets would need a drain. They could run right onto the 4floor" of the sixteen inches of salt water.

If there are (a) water and (b) a dolphin in the same room, things are going to get wet. In sixteen inches of water, Pamela could soak the TV which was a good six feet off the floor. Obviously, the human things need to be dry. Pen, paper, TV, electrical items, etc. I had relatively few items during my week's experiment and Pam was relatively quiet and still. [This quietness may have been because of her injury]

I recommend that more experiments be done in setting up and care of objects for humans. That the house have high shelves, high electrical outlets (if any), high electrical equipment (if any), and a design of covering to "dry store" things. Perhaps 4dry" areas of work, a raised platform with a desk on it. Cupboards at top of walls with access only to humans. This is purely a designer's problem

During this week, all my food was cooked outside the room and brought to me. The problem in the flooded house would, of course, be different, as the person would have a kitchen. I do not think that any rigid diet need be set up for the human. I do recommend that canned foods be kept in dry store and that the cooking facilities be as simple as possible. Two burners are quite adequate. Butterfish is excellent fried and this could be a simple source of food [but possibly monotonous]. Electric or gas facilities in the design of the kitchen must be thoroughly investigated; I will not do that here.

During my week I slept usually in daytime clothes, wet, in a bed that was wet, with a dry quilt that got wet, with a dry pillow that got wet, except for a corner I would protect with my cheek. Several times I went to bed in dry clothing, but the bed was still wet. This meant that the clothes became damp through the night. Several times I became uncomfortable when sleeping, because my skin itched. I suspect that this was due to the amountof time I spent in the same clothes, rather than to the fact that I was damp or wet. Usual:ly I slept well and several times was surprised by a very sound sleep.

Sleep patterns are broken with a dolphin. Many times I was awakened at the night by a restless-hungry Pam. This is O.K. but must be accounted for. I solved it by taking daily naps, as closely as I could matching my sleeping patterns with the dolphin's sleeping or resting patterns.

I recommend that more experiments be done to determine results of "wet" sleeping.

NOTE: I had a stiff neck on my last day in the tank and on the day following my getting out. Did wet sleeping cause this? I would like to see experiments done to determine if dry sleeping, still in close proximity to the dolphins, is possible. Sleep for a week is unlike sleep for a year or more. Is "wet" sleeping the answer?? Is sleeping in heated water the answer?? Is dry sleeping the answer?? I do not know. I do recommend being flexible enough to match the dolphins' sleeping pattern. A man and a dolphin will have a year of wake hours and of sleeping hours, and there is no necessity for eight hours awake, eight hours asleep, and so forth. What is important is enough sleep/rest for both, not when it is obtained.

A note on cleaning; during even one week in this small tank, dirt collected and sat on the bottom. In a house, where the dolphin is not constantly stirring up the bottom of each room, this would surely happen. There must be a system for draining that would allow scrubbing. Also a "vacuum" of a siphon hose should be available. This seems to be the best way to clean dirt out of water . . . without draimimg.

A week is a very short time and every animal is different. I decided only one thing at the outset of my experiments: to be in no rush "to make anything happen between us" and to let Pam take the initiative as much as possible. I was glad I made that decision; I stick by it, whether for a week or for a year. I found, during this week, a nice slow, steady, sweet binding of the relationship between us. Our mutual relationship was, for a day and a half, zero; we had no contact_slowly I approached Pam . and she allowed stroking.*

Then she invited this . . . turning on side, etc. Long rub se signs slowly turned the tide so that soon she was coming to rr . . . rubbing my legs, hands. Until almost the end of the week Pam would not eat from me in the tank. She would not even take food from an outside source with me in the tank. Slowly all th resolves itself until Pam, at the end of the week, is taking fish from me while I am in the tank . . . sitting or standing.

Progression in familiarity and boldness can be seen throughout the week. In the beginning there is a very polite, gentle, "tippytoe" business of getting to know you.

Toward the end of the week, we were both loosened up to th point of Pam demanding attention from me, interrupting conversations, flapping tails to get my attention, etc. And I am feelin freer with her . . . at one point I let loose and yell at her to sto something that is amnoying me.

I think that this change of mood in the tank is interesting an important. I am not saying that any politeness or gentleness stops;I am saying that both parties become freer to make their wishes known to the other.

I recommend that in any other preliminary experiment or i the fiooded house itself . . . nothing should be rushed. That th dolphin be allowed to go at its own pace . . . and each animal may be different in this. Over a longer period of time, lessons are scheduled throughout the day . . . and that the time in-between living be as easy and free for both parties as possible.

During this week, I recorded only one lesson with Pam. It wa not until the end of the week that I was able to feed her fror within the tank anyway, and then very often she would eat onl a few fish. Over a longer period of time, I feel sure that the doplhin vocalization would increase . . . encouraged by the human . . . and would hecome part of the in-bet:ween living as well as part of the lesson.

[A clinical note on Pam. This dolphin had been badly traumatized. Her behavior is in general "distant," "remote." She is shy and retiring. She wary and cautious. She gives one the feeling, however, that she is also gentle and wants to make contact but something is keeping her from that contac We know tbat before she joined us she had been through two traumat. episodes which we do not describe here.]


Pam did, immediately upon my entering the tank . . . show a willingness to respond vocally to me. It was in delphinese, how ever. And only after a period of time did she begin to vocalize in any humanoids. I believe that the closer you are physically to the dolphin the closer you can get vocally. And during a week's time the progress here can be very slow, but over a year(s) . . . such a situation should have spectacular results.

I would like to see a house built so that a man and a dolphin could actually live together for one, two, or three years. If dolphins are truly going to learn to speak to us in English, I think they must have a much greater exposure to us and our language than the two hours or so per day they get in tee present lessons at the laboratory. Eventually the whole living situation could be a lesson with us. With the animal learning more and more and the human demanding more and more English words before he will respond to the dolphin's wishes.

No one will ever know the outcome of such a living experiment until it is done. We owe it to the dolphin and t,o our curiosity to try it.

This is Margaret Howe's seven days; and nights with Pam as she reported it. In this report the planning ahead for a much longer experiment of living in the wet environment, Margaret with a dolphin, is given. At this point she was willing to commit 21/2 months or approximately one thousand hours to the project. This is in spite of interferences with her private life and the satis faction of her social needs. In a sense Margaret is insisting that the world come to her and her dolphin. She cannot go out to the world during this experiment. Let us now enter into the expert

ment through the program that she set up for herself to carry out. After this we will give the detailed reporting during the 21/2 months, as written by her at the time.

It is to be emphasized that the experiments are considered by Margaret to be still preliminary. The flooded house program for "permanent" dolphin-human living is uppermost in her mind. Therefore she calls this a "program for a 21/2 months' preliminary experiment."

Margaret and I had many conferences before, during and after the seven-day experiment: planning strategies, compromises, costs, materials, personnel, were all discussed. After such conferences, Margaret then took the initiative within the limits of the possible and carried out the actual details. Since what she did is the important data and since this is based on her final plans, the content of our conferences is not recorded. Though possibly important, only the reflections of this content through the mirror of Margaret's writing is left in this account.