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The word Dolphin comes from the Greek word delphinos, which can be translated to mean womb. In context, this translation can be related to the process of rebirth; a keyword of the dolphin totem.
Swimming with the dolphins has become a favorite experience to those who have had the opportunity to do so. There are numerous stories about the healing therapeutics of dolphin interaction with humans and other species that could be considered to be a rebirth of sorts. Those lucky enough to share some time with the dolphin report changes in both aptitude and attitude after a community swim. Some articles point to the preference of the dolphin for members of the human species. The study results show the dolphin preference for children over adults, women over men, and the pregnant female over the non pregnant one. Dolphins observed in their community setting are seen tending to the ill among them with tenderness and purpose not unlike what can be found among our own species.
Dolphins are mammals which means, just like you and me, they breathe air and are warm-blooded. An opening at the top of the head, called a blowhole, lets air flow to the lungs. If a dolphin becomes unconscious and thus sinks into the water it will die from drowning. In her book, Whales, Dolphins and Man, author Jacqueline Nayman describes the breathing process that takes place for dolphins.
As part of their physical makeup, Dolphins have powerful tails, hard snouts and mouthfuls of formidable teeth. The fact that a dolphin can appear to be standing on its tail in the water demonstrates the power in the tail muscles. And, the dolphin has the most teeth of any mammal; from 88-200 teeth depending on the particular species. Besides all this, they are also relatives of the largest mammal, the whale.
The dolphin communicates via whistles, clicks, squeaks, squeals and grunts. Author Nayman comments on the dolphin's unique communication technique. "Each dolphin has its own signature whistle whereby other dolphins can identify it, and if a dolphin conversation is recorded on an oscillogram it can be seen that they do not whistle at the same time but take it in turns, as though listening to each other." Quoted from Whales, Dolphins and Man, Jacqueline Nayman, The Hamlyn Publishing Group, London, 1973, p122
As we all know, communication is a key to harmony and balance within our lives. Here is where the dolphin sets an example for us all to follow. Dolphins travel in packs of numbers sometimes up to 1000, depending on the particular species, so it is important, at least from the survival standpoint, to be able to communicate and be understood so as to avoid potential harm to the entire family unit.
Dolphins are very intelligent and thus are fairly easy to teach. Militaries have learned of the intelligence of this species and have been using the dolphin to locate harmful items or locales rather than put humans at further risk. Part of the reasoning behind this use is because of the dolphin's echolocation ability that helps them to navigate so successfully.
Echolocation is defined as: "a process for locating distant or invisible objects by means of sound waves reflected back to the emitter by the objects". Sonar ability, also called echolocation, is how the dolphin is able to distinguish objects and gauge distances by emitting and understanding the varying wave frequencies. The dolphin's ability to swim in formation and leap in unison may be due as much to this sonar ability as to the visual capability.
The dolphin's play is imaginative and inventive. They can sometimes jump as high as 10-20 feet out of the water. Their repertoire of tricks to amuse humans and themselves include catching balls or rings, retrieving objects from the water, swimming and leaping in formation, and jumping through hoops.