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Dolphins to Chat with People Soon

Flipper fans, rejoice: soon dolphins will be able to communicate with humans. A new translation machine will apparently be able to allow humans to hear exactly what it is that dolphins are saying. Many science followers may already be familiar with the photos, sounds, and commands that humans already use to communicate with dolphins; indeed, it is how they often train the creatures while in captivity. However, we’ve never been able to understand what dolphins want to say to us—until now. This could be a revolutionary scientific breakthrough similar to the works of scientists like Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey and others who made it possible for us to communicate with and study primates.

Given that dolphins are so intelligent—indeed, they have been declared the second most intelligent species on planet Earth—that scientists are asking that they be given non-human person status, I’m not so sure we want to hear what they’re going to have to say to us.

Think about it. How often do we kill dolphins in order to catch and sell tuna fish? How many dolphins do we have captured in captivity, performing for our amusement—and possibly taken from their own families, unable to travel as far and wide as they normally would in the wild? Approximately 300,000 dolphins, whales, and porpoises die in these amusement venues and fishing ventures every year. And as for the ones in the wild, what do you think they’d have to say about us polluting their habitat and poisoning their oceans, allowing oil to be spilled in vast amounts to the point where it kills them, without so much as a lukewarm apology to the humans affected?

Many humans may scoff at the idea of giving dolphins the status of non-human persons, but it makes perfect sense. They are bright enough to understand concepts and communicate like humans—they are even considered smarter than chimpanzees, which are related to humans. They are highly social creatures and even amuse themselves by blowing bubbles and playing with them, and it looks like they’d easily have pets if they lived on land, too (or if cats were somehow able to live underwater, of course). Dolphins are now considered brighter than three-year-old humans, and our continual exploitation of them has reached a new ethical low; though some people already consider most of what we do to animals as heinous crimes against nature, many more now realize that killing and capturing creatures that are smarter than our toddlers—and possibly our preschoolers—is pretty sick.

What do you think the dolphins are going to tell us when we can actually communicate with them? Something like “Um, you suck, could you please stop polluting my home?’ or “Hey, my cousin Debbie died in that BP spill, do we get reparations or something?” I don’t mean to be flippant, but their view of humans certainly can’t be that friendly—even though they themselves are by far friendlier than we are. Even so, I think my curiosity would win out and I’d have to know what they say if and when this technology is developed, despite my shame over what we’ve done to a fellow sentient, intelligent species.