An expectant couple from North Carolina are currently in Hawaii awaiting the birth of their baby. When the time comes, they will have a so-called dolphin-assisted birth — a completely whacked idea that experts say is wrong on a number of levels.
The couple, Adam and Heather Barrington, are currently staying with Star Newland, the founder of the Sirius Institute — an organization devoted to “dolphinizing” the planet.
At the institute, the couple will spend time in the water, forming a connection with a dolphin pod they hope will bond with them and ultimately their newborn.
“It is about reconnecting as humans with the dolphins so we can coexist in this world together and learn from one another,” says Heather.
The couple hopes to find this connection during prenatal and postnatal swims with the dolphins.
“Having that connection with the pod of dolphins anytime – even if the birth doesn’t happen in the water – still brings peace, comfort and strength to the mother and baby during labor,” says Heather.
They believe a dolphin-assisted birth will be calming experience and beneficial.
“It’s total relaxation for the mother,” says Adam. “Dolphins are very intelligent and healing which in turn calms mother and baby for the whole process,” adds Heather.
Writing in Discover, Christie Wilcox calls it “possibly the worst idea, ever,” noting that dolphins are “wild animals, and they are known to do some pretty terrible things":
Look at how their treat their women. Male dolphins are aggressive, horny devils. Males will kidnap and gang-rape females with their prehensile penises, using alliances of several males to keep females isolated from the rest of the group. As Miriam Goldstein once explained to Slate, “To keep her in line, they make aggressive noises, threatening movements, and even smack her around with their tails. And if she tries to swim away, they chase her down.” Male dolphins don’t just rape their females — they’ve also been known to assert authority by forcibly mounting other males.
They also get a kick out of beating on and killing other animals. Dolphins will toss, beat, and kill small porpoises or baby sharks for no apparent reason other than they enjoy it, though some have suggested the poor porpoises serve as practice for killing the infants of rival males. That’s right, not only do dolphins kill other animals, they kill baby dolphins using the same brutal tactics. No matter how cute they might appear, dolphins are not cuddly companions; they are real, large, ocean predators with a track record for violence — even when it comes to humans.
Wilcox is worried that the couple could be roughhoused by the dolphins. But she also points to the complete lack of evidence in support of the claim that the experience is relaxing or soothing. Moreover, as marine biologist Lori Marino has noted, “Nearly a decade following our initial review, there remains no compelling evidence that DAT is a legitimate therapy or that it affords any more than fleeting improvements in mood.”
And given recent calls to avoid dolphin-human encounters, it's a trend that's going against the grain.
Read Wilcox's entire article.
Images: blueElephant/Shutterstock; Charlotte Observer.