Decoding The Language of Dolphins with Diana Reiss

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Diana Reiss is a cognitive psychologist whose research focuses on the communication and cognition of marine animals. The core of her specialization revolves around dolphins and the evolution of their intelligence and sense of self. She is the author of The Dolphin in the Mirror where she talks about how dolphins possess the rare ability to recognize themselves in front of a mirror - once thought to be exclusive to apes and humans. She is a strong advocate for preserving aquatic life, spearheading environment preservation programs and protesting against industrial practices that destroy oceanic habitats. Diana is also a core member of Interspecies Internet, a global think-tank that seeks to accelerate interfaces that facilitate interspecies communication.

Diana joins me today to discuss her passion for dolphin research, where it all began, and when her advocacies for animals started. She discusses how her research on dolphin intelligence changed what we know about them and explains the similarities between dolphins and humans regarding self-awareness and learning techniques. Diana also shares her experience with filming The Cove, a documentary about Japan’s dolphin hunting practices and explains the goal of Interspecies Internet.

“By decoding, we could converse with animals. By decoding, we can understand what they are saying.” - Diana Reiss

This week on CTRL-ALT-Meat:

  • Why Diana made the switch from arts to studying dolphin cognition
  • Diana's history of rescuing animals in her youth
  • How Diana's studies have changed the way the scientific community viewed dolphins
  • What Diana discovered about the first stages of dolphin interactions between mothers and calves
  • The different ways dolphins communicate with each other
  • How Diana gives dolphins a means to communicate with them
  • Why dolphins are like humans when it comes to vocal learning
  • Diana's findings regarding dolphins' sense of self and social awareness
  • Diana's opinions on dolphin hunting and her advocacies
  • What really goes on during a dolphin hunting expedition
  • Using stories over facts to convince people to care for dolphins
  • What they learned when they taught dolphins how to use touchscreens
  • Rescuing a whale in 1985
  • Why we have to rethink our industrial fishing practices
  • What Diana would encourage people to do to improve environmental conservation practices

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