Woman and Dolphin: Margaret Howe and Peter, Pam, & Sissy

Margaret Howe with Peter the Dolphin

Margaret Howe with Peter the Dolphin (src)

In 1965, Margaret Howe, a research assistant to Dr. John C. Lilly at St. Thomas Laboratory, participated in two human-dolphin cohabitation experiments. The second has grown infamous, as Margaret reported engaging in activities of a questionable nature with her male dolphin companion.

Her account of the second experiment is reproduced below, all on one page for reading convenience. Missing text and OCR errors from Lilly’s website have been corrected, using a copy of Mind of the Dolphin for reference. Remarks in square brackets are from Lilly.

For further reading see Lori Marino’s article, Dolphins are Not Healers.


Before the experiments of living continuously with dolphins, Margaret Howe spent 8 months working with and observing the dolphins Peter, Pam, and Sissy.

The perspective of the preliminary period leading up to these experiments in Margaret Howe’s life is best given by a sample from her notes:

Date is Thursday August 13, 1964. Time is 1104 hours. Visibility is good. Pam is now swimming full length of pond. She is in her “spot only” routine. (What is the spot routine? I don’t recall but I explain somewhere.) Pam and Peter rest by the inflow. Sissy is circling, sonaring by the hydrophone. Peter circles slowly. Now Sissy chases Peter. He bites along her. He does three half-leaps, they swirl, Sissy opens mouth wide and slides her teeth down his back. Peter turns over, he is now underneath her. Peter bites her throat. Lots of creaking door sonaring going on. Sissy swims to Pam, Peter follows her, biting at her tail. They hassle. Peter upside down again. They come mouth to mouth.

1110 hours. Peter bites hard on Sissy’s eye. He puts his head under her genital region and bumps upward hard, squealing starts now. Whoooooo, whoooooo, by Sissy. She circles away from Peter, now back to him. He is after her tail in tight circles, lots of loud whoooooo, whoooooo. Sissy makes it and lets out a steady stream of bubbles from her blowhole as she does so. In center of pool the two line up face to face, not touching. Noses about four feet apart. Peter suddenly lurches forward after Sissy with mouth open. Sissy goes to Pam and they cruise together. Peter cuts in, haggles with Sissy, making whah, whah complaints. (Time for writing.) Pam’s right eye closed now cruises with Sissy. Peter is alone, swimming around outside pool with his belly facing in towards the wall. Peter flips upside down and goes into chasing Pam. Pam leaps clear of water three times, turning to face opposite her way as she does. Pam slows down, Peter is immediately less intense in this chase, Pam noses along Peter’s genital area, Sissy joins them and the three circle together.

1115 hours. Peter upside down nibbles Sissy. Sissy also turns upside down and continues whooo wboooo while upside down. I can see the stream of bubbles… the three cruise silently, aimlessly, Peter ahead by a length, Sissy outside and even with Pam who is inside. They come to a pause and rest at the surface (time gap for writing).

1120 hours. Peter and Pam both have their right eye closed. Sissy circles pool slowly. Fiddles with piece of grass. Pam undulates in place, Peter starts to circle her excitedly, always facing her with belly turned towards her. Sissy hovers nearby—Peter moves in and sonars Pam’s genital region. Pam moves slowly in circle, Peter follows. Peter leads Pam sonars fish under grate, Sissy is resting near Pam. There is no intensity here, all three seem to be resting and doing not really much of anything. Nosing each other, sonaring genitals, fish hovering, grass playing all seem to be just passing the time of day. Sissy is alone. Now she half leaps whapping the water with her side, again and again, fonp, fonp, she smashes down. This must feel sensational. No one pays any attention to her for a while. She continues. Suddenly Peter from the opposite end of the pool faces her and I can hear him sonaring like mad. He slowly advances towards her, speed increases and he ends up flying at her with mouth open. They hassle. Pam comes over for a look. Peter squeals, races, trying to press genital regions to Pam, no erection, they have a big hassle, lots of bubbles, Sissy starts leaping and Peter follows suit. Pam dashes around, Peter noses into Sissy’s neck, Sissy’s flukes flick across Peter’s genital, suddenly it is quiet. Rest period. Just as suddenly Sissy is whining and chasing after Peter’s tail (gap for writing notes). Peter and Sissy swirl, Peter seems to be directing, pushing her around, nipping her here and there, and it seems that quite often their genital areas come in contact. This is very vigorous. Pam mildly observes an attempt.

1135 hours. Pam stays close to Sissy. Peter and Sissy seem angry at each other, are bopping and nipping and whah, whah, scolding each other. Sissy passes by Peter and wham. She slams him with her whole tail. I can feel the swell in the water as it hits the bubble. Pam is out of it but stays close to Sissy.

1145 hours. Suddenly the fight is over, and the three rest quietly together by the inflow. I am confused by the way a vigorous looking and deathly sounding squabble can end with a big “nothing”. Just suddenly turned off, then resting side by side, seemingly no interest in continuing the squabble????


WEEK ONE: June 15 to 19, 1965

I must say that this week for the main part, is a week of preparation and adjustment. Peter was brought upstairs on Monday. He seemed happy and contented with his new home, but as yet he has not ventured outside. I tried coaxing him during one meal but no go. I may force him out next week just to get going.

I have been so busy getting ready for this experiment at the beginning and had two very disappointing times of filling the completed tank rooms only to find leaks. Once I was ready and the rooms were flooded to twenty-two inches I found that there were a lot of last-minute things to get and hence a day of in and out of the flooded room. On Tuesday night I was fairly settled.

The first few nights in the flooded room were awful. I was uncomfortable and hardly slept. Later I seemed to adjust to that and by Thursday I was fine. I found that it was very tiring just to walk across the flooded room. Everything I do takes more energy than it normally would; but I take a nap in the afternoon and that seems fine.

Peter is his energetic self and a bit nippy on the toes. I carry a long-handled broom with me for that and ward him off. This is not always the case, of course: we have had several long “loving” sessions. The water is deep enough for him to roll over and this he does for tummy rubs. He sleeps just next to my bed… some nights he has been quiet and others he just has to yell and splash around. He is always hungry… and usually wakes me early in the morning to tell me to feed him.

Lessons have gone fairly well… I start with counting and shapes. I am stopping, however, for the moment… go back and get Peter into the habit of listening. Speaking. He seems to have lost his sense of conversation. He often overrides me. One thing at a time. I cannot teach him if he is going to yell every time I open my mouth. He has said, for the tape… one clear word, “BALL.” This came in the middle of one of his ramblings by himself and it could contain no meaning. But it is good pronunciation… in a nice comparison with Pam’s “Ball.”

We have several games—the most promising of which seems to be a retrieving game with the dishcloth or the ball. I throw the cloth, squeal “Go get it” to Peter… he dashes away… brings it to me… and willingly flings it in my direction. This seems endless. I would like to work it into a business of “Bring ball” or “Bring cloth” and get him to tell the difference. A step in the right direction.

He had picked up a nice business of following the inflection in my voice… “one, two, three, four”… with an upturn on the “four.”

We have played several times with his brush… he loves to be brushed gently with it. I usually do this in front of his mirror where Peter spends a good deal of his time. I name the brush as I use it. So far Peter has not copied this.

Several personal notes that I will put in here and be done with. I find that clothes are no problem. I spend the day in a bathing suit… shower before dinner and put on the top of a leotard. I have not been cold yet, at night I do not use the wet suit. The room is warm, the nights are not… I have not had the problem of cold that I had with Pam.

The bed is usually damp by night, but it wipes off and half the time I don’t use the quilt. I have sprayed several times for bugs, but they have not bothered me.

Cooking is fine.

Cleaning is interesting. I find that I must do it several times a day, the waterflow is in my favor. Each morning most of the dirt is neatly deposited at the foot of the elevator shaft. All I have to do is suck it up. This I tried with the vacuum from Miami… found it did not pull enough; I put a hose through the elevator down to the sea pool, fill it with water to start a siphon, and find it has a good pull. Only problem is a small mouth. Perhaps a funnel at my end of the hose will fix that. Also the dirt collects several times a day… so I have to do this several times a day. Outside is another problem: algae grow on the walls… I clean it daily… cleaning the floor is not so easy. There is a stronger flow there and the dirt scattered. It will not collect in a pile. But in general the place stays cleaner than I thought it would… and the seawater is always clear… not milky.

In the shower I have been using a children’s shampoo; it does not sting the eyes. Peter stays under the shower with me and does not seem the least affected by the soap so I will assume that in a large quantity of water its effects are negligible.

When the phone rings… it usually takes me a while to get to it… and on the way I explain… “telephone” to Peter. He often hears me talking and starts in vocalizing… very loudly and in a competitive way some time… it is amusing. I encourage this. (See photograph.) Peter uses the mirror… talks to himself… scolds… shoots water at his image. I plan to get a microphone over him to get some of these private conversations. A good deal of the talk that Peter does when he is “alone” is now in humanoid. Interesting and encouraging.

The one thing I really don’t like is Peter’s loss of ability to listen. He must learn this soon or I will be tempted to get Pam up here. Peter is good and loud and humanoid but he is slow to really pronounce… and he is forever interrupting. But I will give him at least another week.*

Another interesting point… I found that when I listened back to the tapes I had made during the week… I was much more encouraged than I was at the actual lesson. I do not get to listen to the tapes during the week. I have just spent all day Saturday checking up on records, bills, and tape listening. I may change my schedule to Saturday out of the tank but working in the electronics room on work done previous week… and take Sunday out of tank and use it as a free day.

Outside work is being done… I looked at the wall around Pam’s future tank. It is about four feet high all the way around, it may be finished this week… in which case we can get the water systems in and make it ready to get Pam up the following week. Pam and Sissy are both downstairs in the algaefied sea pool. But that will have to go for the moment. New concrete should be in soon to fix that situation.

To sum up… a good few days’ beginning… and several nice games, lessons, habits started. I am pleased… and look forward to the next week.

* Before these experiments began, it was questioned as to whether to work with Peter or with Pamela. Pamela (from the previous work with her) had good pronunciation. Peter was more vigorous but had poorer pronunciation.


WEEK TWO: June 19 to 25, 1965

Several new things developed this week.

First Peter and I got on a more sociable, physical level. Peter began to be gentle with me, and allow me to go to him without the broom. He did not nip at me as he used to… rather he was making a thorough study of my feet, legs, ankles, knees. Doing this he is very gentle… the rough part being when he tries to push me around. He gets between my legs and pushes me apart. When he starts to nip… I make a big fuss… shout at him and retreat. But we are getting much friendlier… and I feel more comfortable with him.

Second, my earlier thoughts on Peter are coming true, Peter is more and more inclined to “play games” and speaking is going rather slowly.

I will take advantage of this… and use the games all I can for speaking. We will continue to play the “towel fetch” game and the “cloth fetch” game. We have gotten so far as to have three balls thrown and collected and brought back to me. From this I can start to name the number of balls, and try to get him to fetch only one, or only two. He is very enthusiastic about this game…

Listening to the tapes… I find the most encouraging thing is that Peter does seem to be working. He is taking his sweet time in really beginning to listen to me again… I have had several sessions where I have really had to yell at him to bring order to the lesson. One time I let him ramble on and on, but I tried to copy all of his sounds. The tape was interesting. I was surprised at how well I was able to copy at least his pitch… and how he seemed to test me with new combinations of sounds.

I have concentrated mainly on counting and shape lessons.

I recorded one spontaneous game developed when we were watching TV. The TV is on in the background, and Peter and I are playing with the towel. Peter speaks for it, I throw it, he gets it, brings it to me, and on and on.

I do not know how long Peter will stick at this game… I always get tired before he does. It would be interesting to just keep going until he tires of it.

Peter eats well. Only once has he refused a meal, and then he ate it about an hour later. Occasionally when I am eating something he sets up a row… open mouth “feed me” kind of thing… and I toss him a piece of whatever I am having. A sardine was the most interesting… he mashed it up a bit before dropping it.

I am well pleased with all of Peter’s activities except his apparent vocal ability. He is more than eager . . . works hard . . . but he just does not seem to hear or be able to copy the pronunciation aspects of speech. Perhaps this will come… perhaps not. He has said a clear “ball”; he has worked well on the beginning of the word “one”… the “wa”… and best of all he does seem to have a nice sense of pitch.

By this I mean that when I count, “one, two three,” my voice will often rise on the “three”… and often Peter will copy this rise in the last of the three sounds. This is true of words like “triangle” also. And “hello.” I try to say one word the same way each time… sometimes I fail but for the most part I am consistent in my inflections and Peter is beginning to pick this up.

He has been practicing with the pronunciation of the letter “M” from “Margaret,” no doubt… and is discovering that rolling slightly so that his blowhole is just under the water gives a satisfactory “M” effect. (Pam has done exactly the same thing.)

Peter is certainly many times more humanoid vocally than he was two weeks ago… and some of this is beginning to creep in to non-lesson time such as when he wants my attention, he is annoyed, etc. I always reply in some form to an uncalled-for humanoid and encourage him. Peter continues to “chat” whenever I am on the phone… and this is mostly in humanoid. I don’t think anyone has called here recently and not heard Peter in the background. I have asked people how he sounds… and they say that they can hear him very well. I think incidentally that Peter is quite happy. I would not have said the same thing of Pam in that other situation… but here the water is deep enough so that Peter is well covered… moves easily, can race around… and I see no bad effects at all. I am also quite comfortable except for the sleeping. My bed now has about three inches of water in it… that will not come out… it is saturated. I have been on and off sleeping out of the tank… and I am waiting for some polyethylene sheeting to make my bed more waterproof. I will screen it in. I had a fever of 101°F for a day… and spent the day out of the flooded room in bed. Aubrey Pickering had been ill and I think this accounted for my fever.

We have not forced Peter outside yet… I am waiting for special workmen to come and look at the balcony to see about cleaning it and I don’t want Peter there when they do. And for the moment he seems happy inside. Each day he moves farther down by the elevator… it may be that he will get outside himself (see photograph).

Monday the sea pool will be cleaned and Tuesday the concrete will come and start being poured as was planned. My boys will continue on wall… and by the end of next week Pam should come upstairs. Here’s hoping! [The reference is to the wall around Pam’s new tank outside this building referred to earlier in this report.] (See photograph.)

I am anxious to start work with Pam… I miss her pronunciation capability!


WEEK THREE: June 27 to July 2, 1965

Monday and Tuesday of this week we start in the first out-and-out cleaning of the new flooded room. The inside was drained and scrubbed down. Peter was put outside… we were going to get him into the sling but it was not necessary. He was gently pushed and went through the door. He spent a happy day outside… moving freely all around the center wall. (See photograph.) We worked inside and repainted the bottom with Thoroseal. Tuesday we cleaned outside. Peter had to be brought inside in the sling and he was reluctant. When he was in the sling I saw that his belly had some red marks, probably from the rough floor inside. They did not look open or even very sore, just pink. We were able to clean outside fairly well although the drainage is not complete and it is hard to get all the mucky water out. Most of the algae growth was at least scrubbed off, if not flushed out.

Draped shower curtains around my bed… dried all the parts of the bed… looked forward to dry sleeping. Found during the week that it works very well… Peter will get my attention by throwing ball up against the curtain… “whap, whap”… but he cannot get me drenched any more.

Several of the lessons this week were very poor. Peter has picked up this monotonous tone, a whine… and it goes on and on… he seldom stops to listen to me. I will do anything to break this, and several times I lost my temper and really yelled at Peter. Other times he listens very well… and at least seems to be trying to do the right things.

I still feel very strongly that I can do what I am trying to do… but I have not succeeded in doing it yet. I must teach Peter that he is to learn. Just that… and then we will have something. I can go through five lessons with him and be so fed up… and then I will give a counting lesson, say, and suddenly Peter is listening… rolling over and looking at the balls as I point to them, looking back up at me… trying sounds, listening when I repeat. It may be that Peter is not sure exactly what he is supposed to be doing. I must try to make it quite clear.

I find in going over the tapes of the week that they are very helpful… I get a condensed version of what has gone on. It all comes back. I am picking out some things that I find interesting… a good beginning of a word, a good copy of inflection, pitch, etc., but I have not started rerecording any parts of it yet. I am so lousy at the mechanics involved that it will take forever… and I don’t think I have enough good material yet to make it worth the time spent. [When I asked Miss Howe what she meant by “good material,” she added “good pronunciation.”]

Peter has still not gone outside on his own. He inches his way… I have decided it is just too shallow. This weekend I will raise the level and see if he will come out.

Toward the end of the week on Friday afternoon, I had the first really bad spell of restlessness. I just could not stay at the lab another moment. I got into the car and drove around a bit… and felt better. [Margaret has enlarged on this state of mind in a longer note, which will be inserted later in the summary of problems encountered.]

I am physically so pooped I can hardly stand… my legs from the knees down are numb. Note that I got my period on Wednesday… that may affect me. I sleep in my own bed Friday night… and feel better on Saturday. All of this fatigue was also combined with a depression… wanting to get away and see some people. I think I reached a point where my mind is not all on the job and I do not function well at all. At any rate… I went out and around on Sunday… and felt much better facing Monday.

To sum up… it has been a sort of neuter week. Not much visible progress, but no backslip. This is fine with me. The fact is still there that Peter and I have spent another week together… have yelled at each other… have had long, loving sessions, have scolded… had lessons… etc., and that we are a week closer in awareness of each other than we ever were before.

And for the moment that is all I expect. It has taken this long to really iron out the physical problems in the system, and with the exception of food, I think we have now done that. The cleaning people will be here on Tuesday to see about cleaning. About time!

The concrete was poured into the sea pool this week… that was a large distraction. Noise most of the day… I had to get out several times to see the work. Pumps would not work, the crew was there to pour, the pool was still full of water… I had a lot of outside problems on my mind. Saturday morning the crew was due here at seven-thirty to finish pouring concrete. I got up at 5:00 A.M. and put on the pumps to have the pool empty for them, and the power was off.

Most of these are small problems, but somehow this week they added and loomed very big for me. Pam stopped eating for several days. I was worried about her. She is fine now… back on her norm.

Peter continues to be very interested in games. He loves to go and fetch things. I must find a way to make this more worthwhile. The more of this kind of thing the better. I look for any kind of action or performance that has an order to it and some control on Peter’s part. This “go and fetch” is ideal. Once again, I am eagerly looking forward to next week.


WEEK FOUR: July 3 to 10, 1965

During the early part of the week, work was still going on in the sea pool to get the sump properly concreted. Saturday morning the electricity was off and somehow the small tank by the sea pool was half drained. Having no power made it impossible to fill. I have purchased a fifty-foot flexible coil hose for a vacuum upstairs and it works as a siphon. I dropped it over into the tank, and filled the tank from the water upstairs. It is a very good emergency measure. I find that the vacuum takes out more water than the regular outflow upstairs.

I have also discovered that Peter’s reluctance to go outside is not due to too narrow a space, or the doorway… rather it is due to the water being too shallow next to the elevator. (On the south side of the elevator the passageway floor is slightly elevated so that Peter would have to pass over a hump in the floor). I raised the water to about twenty-four inches… and he goes outside on his own. Peter was outside one day… and I closed the top part of the Dutch door arrangement, assuming that he would not go under the door… as I wanted him to stay outside so I could clean inside uninterrupted by his presence. Not so! Peter very willingly came in under the door… went back out again. As long as he has enough water… he moves freely.

We spent a lot of time outdoors, I gave him several non-recorded lessons on the balcony and played with him while floating on the raft.

I have begun working with Peter more and more at times other than feeding. When I am not going to give him a lesson at feeding time, I make feeding as dull as possible. I simply dump the bucket of fish into the water and leave him alone. He eats all the fish, but I do not speak to him, stroke him, etc. I find that more and more Peter is humanoiding to or at me to get attention. I respond as often as possible. I will be in bed, or cooking, and if Peter speaks to me in humanoid, I drop what I am doing and go to him, or else try to engage him in conversation. I do not respond to his attention-getting clicks and whistles. They mean nothing to me and I make that clear.

Peter is more and more interested in games, and often starts them himself. He can toss the ball, bunt with some accuracy to me or at me, and I find that I am suddenly necessary to his game… he seldom plays with these objects by himself. We play two games. One is “fetch”… Peter brings me the ball, cloth, or bunny, I throw it out, he dashes to it and brings it back to me. The other is catch… he hits the ball into the air to me, I can often catch it, and I toss it back to him. He is very willing to toss it back to me. There is no hoarding, or “keep away” instinct. [It is well to note that this is Margaret’s special use of the word “instinct.”]

I can come into the room, find Peter sitting at the mirror and the ball floating at the other end of the room. I can say “ball” to Peter several times and if he wants to play, he can go and get it… and does. It is hard to tell if he can make the distinction say, between the ball and the cloth, he will often get the ball. He seems to prefer the ball and I am not sure he isn’t simply ignoring what I say in doing what he wants to. When this happens I ignore the ball, continue asking for the cloth, and if he will not get it I drop the whole thing.

John Lovett came during the week and took black-and-white photos. I have some on file, with the contact sheets but had sent the rest to Dr. Lilly. They are good shots and are an excellent record of the progress here. (See photos in this report.)

Recording sessions with Peter have improved. He is finally able to listen again! I have a nice system with him of hushing him. When he is wrong I simply put my fingers gently on his beak or over his blowhole and he is still. I repeat… and he follows. He seems to have lost the impatient squealing that was so annoying and we are working much better together. I have not yet gone over the tapes of this week so I cannot report.

I am not capable of using these tapes as I would like to. But I know what should be done and what I would like to do. I think that I will simply continue making the tapes and going over them as best I can… and at a later date I will have to take several days and perhaps get someone in who can properly re-record. Listening to all the tapes is endless and I will make re-recordings of those parts that show progress. This must be done but it can wait.

Peter has become sexually aroused several times during the week, and I have thoughts and questions on this that follow in a separate paper.


WEEK FIVE: July 11 to 17, 1965

Sunday and Monday nights of this week I got very little sleep. Peter was awake and slamming tail hard on water. I tried speaking to him, playing with him… no good. He is restless, his tail goes “whap, whap” all night. Also during the beginning of the week I find that my play periods are changing with him. Also during the beginning of the week Peter begins having erections and has them frequently when I play with him.

Peter has been upstairs with me for just a month, and up until now he has not displayed his sexual excitement. I think we must learn a lesson from this.

I find that his desires are hindering our relationship. I can play with him for just so long now and then he gets an erection and the play/lesson is broken. I find that I cannot satisfy Peter… I am in the water with him and he is too rough to handle. He jams himself again and again against my legs, circles around me, is inclined to nibble… and is generally so excited that he cannot control his attitude toward me. I have had Peter in the same condition before, but under different circumstances. When Peter was upstairs in the Fiberglas tank he would occasionally become aroused, and I found that by taking his penis in my hand and letting him jam himself against me he would reach some sort of orgasm, mouth open, eyes closed, body shaking, then his penis would relax and withdraw.* He would repeat this maybe two or three times and then his erection would stop and he seemed satisfied.

Now, however, I am completely in the water with him and because so much of my body is exposed, we cannot get into the same position as above. I am completely vulnerable to him and he pushes and shoves my legs and feet, and quite pathetically tries to satisfy himself. I can feel his mounting frustration, and he is impossible to work with following this.

I have decided that Peter must go downstairs with Pam and Sissy for at least a day. I think that it is only fair, after say a month with only me, that he join them for a day or so. This, I hope, will relieve his frustrations, so that we can go on working for another month. I know that dolphins have been worked with for much longer periods in isolation without a break to romp with other animals, but I feel that at a certain point one may be hindered by unsatisfied sexual needs. I would rather lose Peter for a day and have him happy than continue as we are.

This will be much harder to determine in the females, if in fact it does exist. When Pam comes upstairs to her tank I will give her a month and then look closely for signs of frustration or lag in her learning. This may be a very important and as yet unrealized step in dolphin teaching. To try and keep an animal in isolation and a learning situation beyond this point of frustration may impair learning or even set it back. Each animal may have different tolerances, or they all may be somewhat alike. With Peter, so far, it seems to be about a month. I will follow this report with a report on Peter’s attitudes after he has had one or two days with Pam and Sissy.

Another thought I have had on this subject is whether or not it would be best for the human to somehow find a way to satisfy the dolphin’s sexual needs without another dolphin. This may strengthen the bond between the dolphin and the human. It may also lead to more and more frequent “sexual periods” between the two. If Peter knows that I can satisfy his needs, he may feel free to turn any play period or lesson into a sex period… but if he knows that I will not have any part of his sexual needs and that once a month he will be put with Pam or Sissy, he may reduce his excitement periods with me. This would, of course, be preferable. I will try and see. This is a problem, and it must be solved… I cannot go on having my shins belted about by lusty little Peter. lt hurts!

Peter continues to improve his attitude during lessons. He is most attentive, listens as well as I ever hoped, and tries hard. I am working only on a very few words, trying to ram them home with him. He listens, repeats, listens again. He has that lack of pronunciation, but improves daily on inflection and pitch. Listening to the tapes, he could be speaking English from the general sound of it. It is just not yet comprehensible. In the middle of a cocktail party it could be considered background conversation. It has all the right “feel” of English… and soon it will be. I am very pleased.

The sea pool is done. It is painted with blue Tile-It on the sides and white Thoroseal on the bottom. It is filled and Pam and Sissy are in it and very happy. They can still leap clear out… I was not so sure about that with the new bottom. They love it. Sissy spends a good deal of time upside down with her nose in the sump inspecting every inch. I have not been in yet, but I went partly in one day to rub Sissy with cream; she got a bit of a sunburn. It is so nice to walk down a sloping side at the outflow rather than those steps.

The wall around Pam’s tank is done, and painted. I had a hard time deciding on color… something not too bright and not too hot. I decided on black and white combination, and have done it in big stripes. It is not too dizzy looking as I feared it might be and it seems to be as cool and dim as possible. I am working on a possible scheme for the inflow there… if I could somehow use the outflow from the balcony into her tank… it would save a pump, electricity, noise, etc. It may or may not work. I am just waiting for the pump to arrive from Miami. I could put a valve on each end of the siphon to control it through that. I am sure the water would be clean enough… there is so much upstairs.

One month of the project is up… and well spent. I now am no longer thinking in terms of three months… I think in terms of forever!

* The male dolphin’s penis appears outside his body only while erect. It disappears inside the genital slit when not erect. (See picture, Man and Dolphins.)


WEEKS SIX AND SEVEN: July 17 to August 1, 1965

Rather than dealing with this as a weekly report, I am going to write at length about several topics that have come to notice during these weeks.

An interesting thing has been going on, as observed by Dr. Lilly involving Peter and his “mouthing” with me. I will recount what goes on.

When Peter and I first became involved in ball playing, we worked nicely into a game where, several feet apart, we bopped the ball to each other, calling it “catch.” Peter slowly, subtly, would toss the ball shorter and shorter distances… I would have to step towards him to pick it up. This soon moved into a game where I would stand just in front of Peter and really put the ball into his mouth. He would lie on his side..and gently close his mouth on the ball, releasing it to me. Soon he would hold the ball in his mouth… lie on his side, and I tentatively took the ball out of his mouth and began slightly rubbing his gums as I did so. Peter laid dead in the water, eyes partly closed. I was willing to accept this form of mouth play. Previously I would go into a rage whenever Peter opened his mouth in playing a game. Now, however, because Peter was so still and gentle, obviously a little entranced, and because the ball was in his mouth and he could not possibly bite down on me too hard, I was willing to play his way. Note that in the beginning Peter would keep the ball in the front of his mouth… mouth open only slightly and not able to close at all. Slowly, Peter began to roll the ball back in his mouth until his jaws were full open and he could close them several inches with the ball still inside. At this point I held back a bit until Peter convinced me, by his gentleness and trancelike fixation, that this was “pleasure,” not “fool Margaret” period. I felt a little silly, and was delighted that Peter had devised such a subtle, gentle method of getting me over my fears of all those teeth. So we had arrived at point one… Peter “dead” with ball in mouth, slightly open, with me stroking lips and gums. Once step one had been established, Peter slowly moved on to the next step. And that is what happened… I had no idea of the end result of this play… I was along for the ride to see the results of Peter’s increased gentleness and my diminishing fear. Peter led the way.

His next move was, during the same sort of play, to slowly sink in the water with a ball toward the front of his mouth and his jaws slightly closed. All slowly and gently, Peter would run the open tip of his mouth up and down my leg. I, meanwhile, was keeping an eagle eye on the ball and as long as it remained in his mouth I knew that he could not bite down and thus I allowed the play. This, then, became step two in Peter’s plan.

Next Peter gradually moved the ball in his mouth so that his jaws were fully open with the ball still in the back of his mouth. Now he would sink and go through the up and down the leg business; only this time his full set of teeth were running up and down my leg instead of only the tip of his mouth. I again kept an eagle eye on the ball… my “safety factor,” held my breath as the teeth ever so gently went up and down my legs, and allowed this play. [Peter is estimated to be about five to six years old, his teeth still have the childish very sharp tips to them and are just beginning to be worn down. They are still capable, however, of drawing blood.]

All of the above happened over several weeks; it has been a slow, gradual buildup. Peter woos me into position and once we are started he seems to completely relax, eyes fully or partially closed, rolling on his side… obviously having a marvelous time. My only reaction at this point was to hold my breath and watch the ball… I am not an active member at this point.

Peter is not through. During the above, the ball slowly, seemingly, “accidentally” drops out of his mouth. At first I demand that he take it back before I will let him go on with the teeth… but soon he is so obviously involved in his fun, and the ball just seems to slip out of his mouth, and again I take a big breath and let Peter continue, his jaws open up and down my leg with no ball. My safety factor is gone and I can only let the play go on for a few seconds at a time.

Peter continues pressing this game… and slowly I gain confidence. I no longer demand that the ball be there in the beginning of the game to make me feel better.

Peter simply approaches me, mouth open, rolling on his side; I stand very still, legs slightly apart, and Peter slides his mouth gently over my shin. His mouth opens all the way and he begins up and down my leg. Then the other leg. The whole knee is in his mouth.

At this point it occurs to me what has been going on. Peter is courting me… or something very similar! I began to take an active part in the play. After several minutes of Peter “stroking” me gently with his teeth, I compliment him vocally, soothingly, and rub him as he turns to be stroked. Several minutes of this and Peter is back stroking me. I still hold my breath a bit but Peter has convinced me that this is a perfectly legitimate game among dolphins, and with the toning down be gives it for my benefit, it is actually a very pleasant feeling!

Two things about all this stand out in my mind. One is the over-all way Peter was able to woo me, to teach me that I could play this game. I had many fears . . . Peter obviously realized them and found ways, and props (the ball after all was a very convenient tool) to reassure me. Peter has worked long for this contact… he has been most persistent and patient. [Notice that Peter used a tool in a rather sophisticated way in order to induce Margaret to accept certain kinds of attention.] Second is the mood in general of the play. This is obviously a sexy business… all it really involves is physical contact. The mood is very gentle… still… hushed… all movements are slow… tone is very quiet… only slight murmurings from me. Peter is constantly, but ever so slowly weaving his body around… eyes near closed. He does not usually get an erection during this, but does present his tummy and genital area for stroking. I find that once Peter does have an erection, his mood usually changes completely and he gets so rambunctious I have to leave him. Perhaps this is his way of involving me in some form of sex play without scaring me away.

I feel extremely flattered at Peter’s patience with me in all this… and am delighted to be so obviously “wooed” by this dolphin.

Several other points have come up during these weeks.

For several days there have been groups of from four to six persons at the laboratory. They all saw Peter. They were all dry, standing outside the flooded living room, dangling arms over the wall. This is going back to the “dolphin in the tank-human leaning in” idea… and I do not like it. Peter fell back into the old business of squirting up at the people and various dangling arms and heads. And the people? Usual reaction… saying “no” in a high-pitched, giggly voice, and ducking down, only to pop up seconds later and dangle again, inviting more squirting.

This is all very fine, and people are flattered and Peter finds it a game but I refuse to allow it. It is boring, eventually annoying, and completely out of line of what I am trying to do by living with Peter. I stop this business by getting in with Peter (and I have been outside with the people) . Peter began to play with me… and although he was still very aware of the “outside” people . . . he no longer focused on them. Enough said… Peter is not in a cage and will not be played with, teased, observed, stared at, or anything else by “outside” people. You are several months too late, people, Peter has outgrown you. [And so has Margaret.]

I went to San Juan and purchased several new toys for Peter. I will introduce them one at a time. I have removed all balls from his rooms, and have given him six “toy” fish. They are red, plastic, about nine inches long, they float, and I can push them gently and they glide on top of the water. Peter began bopping them… has collected them together several times… and slowly we are working out “toy fish” games. The real butterfish I now term “fish in bucket,” as a contrast. Occasionally I play with the fish and a ball… explaining “ball” and “toy fish.” Peter’s “toy fish” comes cut as two clear separate sounds, but no pronunciation yet. I am working on “toie.” I have not spoken to him yet of color… but I do count the fish with him. Slowly these new objects are becoming part of his life. I will discuss the other toys as I use them.


WEEKS EIGHT THRU TEN: August 2 to August 18, 1965

The past few weeks have been interesting ones for me, in that I am finding that I have periods of lag in my attention to my work.

I fight this to a point, but only to a point. I find that once my attention is averted from Peter, it is best not to fake it, because my lack of genuine enthusiasm with him can only lead us backward.

It is also true that during these weeks there have been other distractions at the lab that have required my attention.

Two awnings have been installed, one over the Fiberglas tank and one over the block pool at the outflow of the sea pool. (See photographs.) We have needed these for a long time, and I was very glad to see them installed.

Also during the week photographs were taken of the lab in general and of me in with Sissy and Pam. We took a series of pictures of Sissy being brought upstairs on the elevator. (See photographs.) For this we used my bed, the pallet to show it in operation. My bed was therefore soaking wet, and it took several days to get the foam dried out. This broke my pattern with Peter, and I find that once it is broken, it is very hard to get back into it.

Also, several matters in town required my attention. Our phone has been out of order for over a week now, and all calls have to be made from outside. (This led to a good deal of anxiety on Dr. Lilly’s part in which he spent thirty-six hours trying to raise me and almost came to St. Thomas to find out what was wrong.)

Also I had to go out to the employment agency to start the long fight to keep our three workmen… the new immigration law states that I must try to find local help. This is still not settled.

So all in all it has been a distracting week. Meanwhile I have worked with Peter as best I could.

Monday of this week after my several days out of the flooded room, I moved back in with Peter and I find that, after the lapse, energy seems to be renewed on both parts. I am delighted with Peter… and he is working as hard as ever. I say “work, work, work” and Peter says “play, play, play.” I try to combine them. He plays endlessly with his toys, if I play with him. I usually work with two different toys at a time… say the toy fish and a “Ba Be Block.” We go from one to the other, and I try to get him to tell the difference. He does and he doesn’t. Once he has correctly made a choice, I scold him when he makes a mistake. Some of this I am sure is just the bad little boy doing as he wishes.

I wish to add a note about the progress in the sex problem that developed between Peter and myself. I have found that during his erections, Peter was much to strong and pushy and I could not work with him. Then there was the business of Peter wooing me with the nibbling on the legs game. This was an example of Peter teaching me something.

Now it has happened that Peter has modified his sexual rambunctiousness… to a more humanized level… and no longer has to come to a dead stop when he gets excited. Peter’s sexual excitement usually begins with the biting business, and my stroking him. Now, however, when his penis becomes erect, he no longer tries to run me down and knock me off my feet, rather he slides very smoothly along my legs, and I can very easily rub his penis with either my hand or my foot. Peter accepts either and again seems to reach some sort of orgasm and relaxes. We usually go through this three times or so before he quits and starts another game. This is not a private thing. Peter and I have done this with other people present… but it is a very precious sort of thing, Peter is completely involved, and I involve myself to the extent of putting as much love into the tone, touch, and mood as possible. We do not have to respect his privacy… but we cannot help but respect his happiness!

Now two things… I started out afraid of Peter’s mouth, and afraid of Peter’s sex. It had taken Peter about two months to teach me, and me about two months to learn, that I am free to involve myself completely with both. It is strange that for the one, I must trust completely… Peter could bite me in two. So he has taught me that I can trust him. And in the other, he is putting complete trust in me by letting me handle his most delicate parts… thus he shows me that he has trust in me. Peter has established mutual trust. Could I have devised such a plan? Looking back… things I left out. The effect of isolation and solitude over the ten-week period cannot be ignored. Looking back over the time spent and the notes collected, I find that I, for some reason, left out things about myself. Perhaps I felt they were not important or was ashamed of them.

Several times during the period, I felt the physically depressing effects of the situation to the point where I found myself actually crying. Small inconveniences suddenly loomed as very large and ugly. And I would find myself in a fit of self-pity, depression. It was Peter himself who brought me out of it every time without exception. An example of all this: to take a shower at night before going to bed, means that I have to stand in knee-deep sea water during the shower, dry myself, and then wade back to my bed. This meant that when I got onto my bed, my legs from the knee down were wet with salt water. Even after drying with a towel, the dampness would still get through and make the sheet on my bed clammy and, if I had any nicks on my legs from Peter, they kept “stinging,” and in this rather bizarre setting with moonlight shining on the water making moving shadows all over the ceiling and walls, dull pump noises from below, I would try to settle down in bed, and occasionally found that out of sheer self-pity I would be adding my own salt tears to the mess I already lay in. And then, usually not very long after I lay still, Peter would sound off in humanoid, loud and clear, very close. From where I lay I could part the shower curtains around my bed, and reach out my hand to my eager, bright-eyed roommate who had usually collected a ball of some sort and was all set to start up a nice game of fetch or catch.

Peter was very determined in his expression of his need for me to enter into his game… he would toss the ball again and again into my bed, and emit humanoids in long and involved phrases, they were not perfectly clear in meaning but were perfectly clear in intent… that I seldom if ever ignored him, and usually ended up right back in the water, not caring at all about sleep, or the wet bed or the shower routine… simply overwhelmed at what Peter and I were accomplishing together.

Another example of the kind of depression that I went through: during the day the two workmen are around the lab, and I can talk to them and hear their work going on. The last one usually leaves rather late in the day… several hours after I have supposedly fed Peter his dinner. I found that the sound or the sight of that last person leaving at the end of the day depressed me so terribly, that the only way to get myself out of this feeling was to hold off feeding Peter until after they had all left. This I did and found that when the sad feeling came over me and I felt so alone, I would then have yet another lesson to do with Peter. At the end of the lesson I would be so involved with Peter and what had gone on during the lesson, that I avoided the empty feeling I dreaded. When I was expecting a human visitor in the evening I was very excited, elated. I almost always found, however, that when the visitor left I was sadder and lonelier than I was without a visitor. (I seldom had visitors.)

The feelings of depression and aloneness were not a constant thing by any means, but they did come and go, and my having to turn to Peter to overcome them was, I feel, an important part of the experiment. [Margaret has not read any of the solitary sailing, alone in the polar night or the isolation experiments literature. She is acquainted with some of the things that I have told her of this area of isolation. I feel that her description here is definitively her own and that little, if anything, of this is suggested from outside. There is an interesting correspondence here with experiences of other people isolated alone.]

This is the end of Margaret’s notes made during the experiment. 

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