Dolphin  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Dolphins are marine mammals closely related to whales and porpoises. There are almost forty species of dolphin in 17 genera.

Contents

Relationships with humans

Mythology

Dolphins have long played a role in human culture. Dolphins are common in Greek mythology and there are many coins from ancient Greece which feature a man or boy or deity riding on the back of a dolphin. The Ancient Greeks welcomed dolphins; spotting dolphins riding in a ship’s wake was considered a good omen. In Hindu mythology, the Ganges River Dolphin is associated with Ganga, the deity of the Ganges river.

Popular culture

In more recent times, the 1963 film Flipper and the subsequent 1964 television series popularized dolphins in Western society. The series, created by Ivan Tors, portrayed a dolphin as a kind of seagoing version of Lassie, the collie made popular in the 1950s TV series. Flipper was a bottlenose dolphin who understood commands and always behaved heroically. Flipper was remade as a film in 1996.

The 1973 movie The Day of the Dolphin portrays kidnapped dolphins performing a naval military assassination using explosives. This was also explored in the similarly named The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode, "Night of the Dolphin", where Lisa frees a dolphin at an aquarium exhibit and unwittingly initiates their plan to overthrow the land-dwellers and live in their place. The 1990s science fiction television series seaQuest DSV featured a bottlenose dolphin named Darwin who could communicate using a vocoder, a fictional invention which translated clicks and whistles to English and back.

The 1995 movie Johnny Mnemonic portrays an ex-military dolphin named Jones who tries to find a password for Johnny by decrypting data in the latter's head.

Killer whales have also been portrayed in film, though to a lesser extent than bottlenose dolphins. The 1977 horror movie Orca portrayed killer whales as intelligent and capable of pair-bonding and aggressive behavior. In the movie, a male killer whale takes revenge on fishermen after they kill his mate. The 1993 movie Free Willy made a star of the Orca playing Willy, Keiko.


Literature

Dolphins are also common in contemporary literature, especially science fiction novels. Dolphins play a military role in William Gibson's short story Johnny Mnemonic, in which cyborg dolphins find submarines and decode encrypted information. Dolphins play a role as sentient patrollers of the sea enhanced with a deeper empathy toward humans in Anne McCaffrey's The Dragonriders of Pern series. In the Known Space universe of author Larry Niven, dolphins play a significant role as fully recognised "legal entities". More humorous is Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of picaresque novels, in which dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on Earth (after mice, followed by humans) and try in vain to warn humans of Earth’s impending destruction. Their story is told in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. Much more serious is their major role in David Brin's Uplift series. A talking Dolphin named "Howard" helps Hagbard Celine and his submarine crew fight the evil Illuminati in Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus Trilogy.

Dolphins appear frequently in non-science fiction literature. In the book The Music of Dolphins by author Karen Hesse, dolphins raise a girl from the age of four until the coast guard eventually discovers her. Fantasy author Ken Grimwood wrote dolphins into his 1995 novel Into the Deep about a marine biologist struggling to crack the code of dolphin intelligence, including chapters written from a dolphinian viewpoint.

Art

Dolphins are a popular artistic motif, dating back to ancient times. Examples include the Triton Fountain by Bernini and depictions of dolphins in the ruined Minoan palace at Knossos and on Minoan pottery.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dolphin" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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