The Legend of the Golden Dolphin − a Relationship

Peter Shenstone, the original Messenger has said: “The Legend is our collective stories. So anyone can take it and make of it what they will. That part of it that came through me is in my care. I trust that you (Scott) know what you are doing and will treat the Legend with due regard.

He and I have discovered differences in what we were given to work with, and the paths we each followed have led us into different aspects of the Legend.

The Legend had intrigued me when I first encountered it. I first heard it as another person’s presentation of Peter’s compiled work, his texts and illustrations. While Peter’s role and connection to the Legend were clear, it was also, from the start, a story into which my own life fit comfortably. Peter’s life had left various ‘imprints’ in the Legend, not all of which were vital for others to know. Peter’s partner, Jan, told me that she was happy to see my interest in the Legend, and that I was, perhaps, “just the person it needs to help remove some of Peter’s influences over it”.


My fascination led me to doing my own research. Some of what I came across was the same as what Peter had found, from the same sources he had explored. He had been inspired by ‘the Spirit of the Dolphin’ to compile the materials, do the calligraphy, and learn how to illustrate it all, making a set of ‘books’ in which the Legend was portrayed.

My own research led me to texts, histories, and images, plus meeting dolphins, seeking them out and spending time with them. Both in the water and at poolside, I arranged to spend hundreds of hours among them. Peter did not. He told me, “I have never had a message from an individual dolphin. I tap into something else”.

Along the way I had opportunities to befriend several dolphins and was able to spend quite a lot of time with them. These relationships with Squirt, Buck, Cal, Bella, Castaway and GeeGee have changed my life, led it into unexpected challenges, awakenings, and opportunities. They have given focus to my academic research, and have led me to new areas of the Legend.

I also discovered, through these friendships, a world of relationships among those who care for dolphins, the so-called ‘trainers’, veterinarians, rescue teams, and facility managers. Their deep commitment to the dolphins in their care continues to be inspiring. They are sometimes so intensely committed it overwhelmes me with its passions. I've learned a valuable lesson in that: those with no experience of the work a person does with passion can easily misunderstand the motivations and actions of that person.

My research led me on a wide-ranging journey, into the worlds of psychic phenomena, quantitative science, personal observation, and endless reading of the massive documentation of human involvement with cetaceans. Science is a key to advancing the work of the Legend. By reading original research by qualified scientists using critical analysis, one comes to a better understanding. Yet, in doing so, many times I have discovered that science does not support what is claimed in popular culture. It is either purposely or inadvertently misrepresented. For me a divide became evident between what people want to believe and what the evidence really says. I learned that evidence is not always trustworthy either, that it can be gathered and assembled to support one view alone, ignoring other possible interpretations. This leads me to understand that one’s own personal experiences, using evidence gathered impartially and contemplated deeply, approached with an open and critical mind, is the best way to choose one’s own reality.

Don Miguel Ruiz’s “Four Agreements” points out that we are each living within a self-made dream, a reality that is ours alone. Dr. John Lilly pointed out, in his book “Simulations of God: the Science of Belief”, that we each choose our own ‘reality tunnel’ to live within. Just as Peter found himself in contact with a reality that deeply influenced his understanding of who dolphins are and what their influence has been, so I have had my own understandings. Both of us are correct, just as each person reading this is also correct in the way they have assembled the Legend of the Golden Dolphin.

Is the Legend a story of a young female dolphin whose destiny is to save her fellow cetaceans from a dying world, recovering ancient skills that enable them all to build a light ship, to sail across the galaxy to find a blue-water world? And in this world, to carry on the traditions of loving relationships they learned along the way on a planet where they first met humans, and brought them along to our blue-water world? This is how Darmin Cameron understands the Legend of the Golden Dolphin, as he and Brendan “Mookx” Hanley developed it into a film treatment and a soundtrack.

Is the Legend a history of tribal tales, a study of cultural influences found in artefacts like songs, dances, and traditions, playing out in a modern world, as Kim Kindersley has framed it?

Or is it a contemporary quest to study dolphins to understand how their languages are formed, as Jack and Donna Kassewitz see it?

Is the self-awareness of dolphins the key to understanding their place in human efforts to be kind to all animals, as Diana Reiss understands it?

Is it a story that inspires you to work toward establishing water-birthing as a normal way for humans to birth their babies, as Estelle Myers did?

Trish and Wally Franklin, of the Oceania Project, have been inspired by the Legend to do research, some of the most benign and significant research ever done, each year since 1989 going out among the Humpback whales of Hervey Bay, Australia to photo-identify them. Documenting their social relationships, abundance, residency, and migratory interchange, Trish and Wally have advanced global understanding of whales and their ecological significance. This too is an integral part of the Legend.

All of these are parts of the Legend, and each of these people, who have done much more than what I have just mentioned, can be understood to be Legendarians.

Peter, Scott and Estelle Myers 1997

My work has led me to the curious spaces in which some dolphins now live, dolphins who were brought into human environments for various reasons. I have spent a lot of time in these spaces, observing dolphins, swimming with them, studying them, recording them, and filming them. To be clear, I have also spent a nearly equal amount of time on boats doing the same things with ‘wild’ dolphins. Dolphins living among humans are curious to me. They have many of the traits we associate with wild dolphins, yet they have adapted to new circumstances, which reveals much about what is ‘natural’ and what is shaped by being in the more chaotic ocean environment.

I have also been led to see the extraordinary effects that occur when humans interact with dolphins. Those who contact dolphins in built environments experience, in most cases, the same exhilaration, joy, and energetic excitement that those do who meet them at sea. And, for those who have personal challenges, disabilities, pain, behavioural problems, or simply need to relax and have some fun, dolphin contact has a high probability of improving things.

For me the Legend is not only a collection of ancient tales explained by science. It is a living experience. It supports being engaged in the ‘communion with life’ that I seek to have, with the dolphins as my guide. Their focus on joy, their sense of humour, their grace under pressure, their adaptability, acceptance of circumstances, and unfailing self-awareness inspire me.

I embrace the value, the importance, of interactions with dolphins. Humans have much to learn from this, and fate, the 75 years in which humans have been engaging closely with dolphins, has delivered this to us. Scientific curiosity, entrepreneurs seeking profits, entertainers building shows, people with compassion for suffering: all of these have brought dolphins into human environments, and now they cannot go back. We have wrought this, and there is no simple, compassionate, scientifically justifiable way to reverse this.

It is up to us, especially as Legendarians, to assist in this time of change, to remain open to what we can learn from dolphins, no matter where they are, no matter what conditions they live under. Helping them to have the best possible lives means providing for them all the things that can support their creative, inquisitive, joyous selves.

Scott and Peter sharing a moment in the Blue Mountains, 1997

I share my insights into Peter’s work with his knowledge and agreement. I put beside his work my own, another ‘transmission’ along with years of research, in hopes of inspiring others to take up the work of being a Legendarian. There is much work to be done and I know, just like Peter does, that the Legend is all of ours. If you find yourself guided, inexplicably sometimes, to an ever-deepening understanding of the dolphin-human connection, and a near-obsession with sharing what you have developed, you are well on your way.

The Legend has brought me on a liquid, ever changing path. I take full responsibility for the choices made along the way. While my version of the Legend is a piece of this wonderfully great puzzle, it does not, in all of its details, match those of Peter’s. We share the Dolphin Way, within sight of each other, but we do not walk the same path. We will reach the same destination, but we will reach it by different journeys. This is one of the wonderful lessons of the Legend of the Golden Dolphin: we each get to see ourselves, in our uniqueness, in its reflections.

A Telling of The Legend of the Golden Dolphin, March 6th, 2014
The Legend Of The Golden Dolphin - A Relationship
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