One evening in the summer of 2004, I was in a bar on the Bahamian island of Bimini when a smiling young woman came up to me. I was on the island as part of my training with the Dolphin Communication Project, a small US research organisation that studies a resident population of Atlantic spotted dolphins just offshore.

The smiling woman was a massage therapist, and she wanted my opinion. She had a plan to set up a dolphin resort at an undisclosed location in the Bahamas. The idea was to capture dolphins from the wild and transfer them to swimming pools where they would be used in healing therapy. What did I think? Well, I was not too keen on the idea. Why jeopardise the welfare of wild animals by removing them from their home? Why not just take people out to swim with the wild dolphins, as they already did in Bimini, and let them interact with people on their own terms? But the massage therapist didn’t see it like that. “You don’t understand,” she said. “Dolphins want to help p...

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