Friday, December 3, 2021

Chapter from my brother's book

hapter 25 The Healing November 18, 2021 On November 18th the Discovery Channel drove me to Rhode Island to film a segment with my sister Jay. I could get used to this! Jay is one of those remarkable women who have a unique bond with wild animals. I have seen a young moose come out of the woods and start nuzzling her parka as she spoke to him in an adoring yet authoritative voice. When we filmed her walking into her barn twenty horses came to attention as she told them how handsome they were. For twenty-five years my sister has also been part of a pod of wild dolphins and special friend with its patriarch who is himself unique among his species. Somehow in the vastness of the ocean this remarkable woman and this remarkable cetacean have found each other and forged an unbreakable bond in the Bahamian Islands. Today this bond is particularly poignant because my sister has inoperable cancer and the patriarch is himself old and covered with scars. Jay has to have regular chemo sessions and undergo dialysis three times a week. However she still wants to visit her patriarch friend so he can introduce her to his latest offspring. He has taught one calf how to approach humans, perhaps in preparation for becoming the next ambassador to our terrestrial species. Just as the patriarch has introduced my sister to his family, my sister has introduced her husband, daughter; sister and me to the patriarch and I don’t doubt that the patriarch knows exactly how each one of us is related to his special friend. In addition to being such empathetic social beings, dolphins also have the ability to use their sonar to diagnose and heal disease. Mother dolphins scan their nursing infants with pulses of sonar to see if they are having gastronomical problems. If she detects a bolus of gas she will caress the spot to release the gaseous pressure. The first time I met the patriarch my back was in pain. Just floating weightless in the warm alien world made me feel better and I found I could exercise strenuously without irritating my back. This was fortunate because the pod was swimming particularly fast that day. But the patriarch suddenly turned and floated vertically in front of me. He stared fixedly into my pain filled eyes, then abruptly scanned me with a burst of sonic pulses. It felt like a physical therapist had just passed an ultrasound wand over the precise disc that was bothering me. We know that dogs can use their keen sense of smell to sniff out skin cancer in humans and nip off any lesioned cells. I like to think that after my sister and the patriarch reunite and tell each other about their lives and families that the patriarch will bath my sister in a soothing shower of sonar pulses to draw out the illness lurking in her plasma cells. It is such interspecific bonds and strong friendships that give me hope that we can somehow heal our polluted planet. If we don’t, I fear future cetacea will warn their great grandchildren to avoid any species with our grasping long acquisitive fingers and large, curiously hypertrophied brains. #### Bill Sargent is a NOVA consultant and author of 27 award-winning books about science and the environment. His most recent book, CRAB WARS; A TALE OF HORSESHOE released by Brandeis University Press in September and will be available through local stores, and CRABS, ECOLOGY AND HUMAN HEALTH was

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