Back in the 1970’s, Malcolm Brenner, found a love like no other. Their story is like that of Romeo and Juliet; a story of doomed, forbidden love that evaporates in the light of two incompatible social circumstances. He would secretly visit her in captivity over the course of 9 months to avoid the disapproval of people around him. The particular quality that set her apart from other potential lovers was that she was a beautiful 400lb marine mammal.
I was never popular as a young man, I always felt like an outsider. Having this experience made me feel more of an outsider and placed me beyond the boundaries of most human experience. This is not simply because I had sex with a dolphin, but because I felt I’d been touched by an alien mind. From my experience with the dolphin, Dolly she was called, I now have a new appreciation for the creatures of this planet and that things are not necessarily the way we’re told they are.
One of the mindsets of Western culture comes from the Bible the ‘Go forth and dominate the World and subdue everything,’ as in Genesis. Further, in Leviticus 20: 15-16 and in various other scriptures, it states that bestiality is a perversion punishable by death for both the human and the animal involved. This is not a case of people being concerned about animal abuse rather it was a way for ancient Hebrews to distinguish themselves from the other tribes or religions that engaged in bestiality as part of their culture, such as the Greeks or Romans.
People also confuse animals with children – innocent creatures that are unable to consent. Grown men are animals with developed sexual desires and are certainly not naïve. Dolly, who spent 9 months trying to find ways to persuade me to mate with her, was also not naïve. She tried many different tactics to convince me that she wouldn’t hurt me and then found ways to arouse me. I became convinced that I was dealing with a creature that was every bit as conscious of its actions as I was. This eventually led to the crumbling of my resistance, and the growth of my desire to make love with her.
See, there are various schisms in our relationships with animals in the sense that we don’t see ourselves as animals. If you have an animal, you can own it, train it to sniff bombs and such, but when the subject of zoo-sexuality comes up, the first argument that arises is that animals can’t consent; a species argument. We don’t consent when we make an animal into food; we don’t ask a pig if it wants to become bacon or require their consent to artificially inseminate or intrusively experiment on them. So why is consent suddenly important when having sex with an animal? Further, the notion that animals can’t give consent stems from a very narrow interpretation that consent must be verbal. You can watch Youtube and observe that animals consent, particularly the females who are more often propositioned, but not always.
The overwhelming factor in a relationship with a dolphin is that they are chattel; they don’t have any rights. The amusement park where I was visiting Dolly was shut down and she died about 8 months since I last saw her. The difference between being a person with legal standing and being chattel, or an object, is the fundamental difference that drives any aspect with a non-human person. There have been cases of scientists and organisations such as Sea Shepherd studying cognitive processes and intuition to give dolphins a kind of quasi-human legal status but I don’t see that happening for a long time. Dolphins have ‘spindle neurons’ in their brains, as do chimps, humans, zebras, elephants and a few others. Spindle neurons are associated with recognizing yourself in the mirror, solving difficult problems and are a social driver.
Another factor is that dolphins are very uninhibited. One of the most difficult concepts that Dolly tried to understand is why I didn’t want to have sex with her. Of course, dolphins have no concept of the complications surrounding human sexuality. Their sex drives are much more primal, wild and free. This is not always a good thing; there are stories of males raping or killing offspring, possibly to bring the female back into heat, just so he can mate with her. Like humans, dolphins also have sex, not just to mate.
When you deal with a dolphin, you confront this raw ego that is actually, from my point of view, very direct. A dolphin wants what is wants and it’s not afraid to let you know it. If you don’t respond, the dolphin may find some way to trick you into doing what it wants. That happened to me sometimes. For example, I was trying to see if I could get her to mimic me vocally; I wanted her to say her name. I repeated, ‘Dolly!’ and every time she would squawk, I would throw a ball; very simple behavioral conditioning. Now, every time I said her name, she would give me a very peculiar distinct squawk but I didn’t want that squawk, I wanted her to say ‘Dolly.’ So I would withhold the ball and every time she got closer to saying Dolly, I would throw it. Whenever she got close, she’d stop repeating and began squawking again. I thought, “Why don’t I try imitating her to see where it leads?” Then she started slowly changing the sound she was making until I realised I had just made the sound that she was making in the beginning. It took about 20 minutes, but she tricked me into making that sound. When I realised this, I noticed she was watching me very closely. When I did a double take, she threw her head in the air and started splashing and making noises. She was very happy that I had figured out what she wanted me to do.
Dolphins don’t accept that they are inferior to us and they shouldn’t have to. The whole purpose of publishing my book, ‘Wet Goddess,’ was to open the discussion of dolphins being our co-equals of the sea. A conscious thought process is the ability to think about your own thoughts and I believe dolphins have this ability because of the way Dolly could change her behavior toward me. Dolly even showed signs of jealousy when I invited a girl I was trying to establish a relationship with, to swim together with her. Dolly was very gentle when I swam with her so I thought it would be fine. When the girl got in the pool with her, Dolly swam right up to her, looked her straight in the eyes and slapped her across the face with her snout. The date didn’t go so well after that. Dolly was able to psyche out that relationship and respond appropriately from her point of view. To be jealous of another species, I feel, requires some leap of faith. It requires what scientists call a ‘theory of mind;’ to understand what is going on in another creatures’ mind, and she figured out this woman was her rival even though she was a different species.
From my experience, I was convinced that the dolphin I was with was telepathic. I had experiences (I was getting high a lot at the time) where I wandered into the dolphin world and she was interested in showing and teaching me things. Kind of like a shamanic journey. That in itself was not convincing as I was a skeptic, nor am I religious and I don’t give up my critical faculties easily. However, this experience managed to get through to the dolphin because she changed her courtship behavior towards me without me being able to tell her how and why. Courtship is very rough between dolphins; she would rub herself on me and try to masturbate by rubbing her genitals on me and I didn’t want anything to do with it at the time. As our contact continued, she began to realise that this is not how humans did it and so she adapted her behavior and became more gentle and erotic. She’d open her mouth and softly rub her teeth along my arms and legs, producing an astonishing sensation which was very erotic from my point of view.
Spiritually, the sense of communion I felt while making love with her was the most intense I ever had. I felt like all the barriers between us had dropped down and we were now one organism instead of two. Apparently some deep link had been established because when she was sold to the aquarium in Mississippi, I went to study in Washington. About 8 months later I had a vivid, heart-stopping dream about dolphins dying in a storage enclosure, like a dark, dank cellar. When I returned to Florida and discovered she had died, I visited the Oceanarium and found that it bore an uncanny resemblance with the place in my dream. Almost as if she had communicated those features in a symbolic form somehow, but I don’t know how. I did not feel like I had any psychic abilities and I never want to be a true believer. When I first had such experiences, it was right after I met the dolphin. I didn’t know it was a dolphin but there was a sort of presence in my head. It was alien, but benevolent. It puzzled me and played games. As I tried to guess what it was, it would always respond negatively but when I guessed it was a dolphin it was like, “Hooray! You guessed right!” I thought, “Oh great, now I have a psychic dolphin swimming in my head.” There was a lot of skepticism on my part, but I wish I went further with that as she was both the beginning and end of my experience with dolphins, and maybe if I followed that dream I could have saved her. Ric O’Barry, who trained dolphins for the Flipper TV series, said he believed they trained all the dolphins on the series telepathically. He, and others, working with dolphins would say that as soon as they had a clear picture of what you wanted the dolphin to do, they would do it, thus saving plenty of time on a tight production schedule. Science won’t investigate this phenomenon as it is easily confused with mysticism but this is the kind of thing you would discuss backstage at a marine mammal conference.
The very notion that there is another species in the water that we can communicate with, if we were smart enough to figure how, would be earth shattering and would be deeply subversive to the way we see ourselves as being the most superior creature on the planet. Not many other species have the same level of self-awareness as dolphins. I had sex with my large, female dog and while it’s good sex, there was no connection like there was with the dolphin. The dolphin was aware of what she was doing, what I was doing and that we were crossing some kind of boundary in making love. A dog is just happy to stand there and get fucked and there’s no deeper meaning than what I give to it.
My hope for the future is that we get rid of these whale jails and prison camps called Oceanariums. These places perpetuate the idea that dolphins are subservient to us, despite that fact we cause this when we bring them into captivity. While I appreciate people’s desire for that level of contact, it is detrimental to the dolphins`. Don’t pollute their homes and their food. I feel that each species should be assessed on their cognitive abilities especially those with self-awareness. We can’t continue to live in denial of our responsibilities. We have to know what we are dealing with. Dolly was a lot like a human emotionally but the fascinating thing is that humans and dolphins have not had a common ancestor in something like 60 million years. To find that I was dealing with a non-human creature so much like me was a shock to my system which still affects me to this day.