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Question #3: What do you imagine the world seems like to dolphins when they use their sonar?

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  1. Simon Hayhoe

    I would imagine that it would make their world more multi-dimensional. as they also have the other senses that we all have, the sonar – or vibrations that relate to proprioception in humans – will add an extra source of sense information to their intelligence. The fact we do not have this function, however, does not make us less intelligent; it merely means that we have to compensate for this lack of sensory data in some other ways – perhaps this made us develop a higher intelligence to compensate.

    All senses work on eachother and with eachother, and this provides the information we need to “compute”, interpret and wander around our environment. Although sensory impairments can remove one or more elements of this picture, these can be compensated by the more efficient and refined use of other senses, to compensate. Abstract forms and descriptions can also be used to compensate people with sensory impairments – this is what makes education so important.

    May 18, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

  2. Pete

    I’d imagine it seems full of intensely irritating white noise which gets in the way of communication, navigation and enjoyment. So much the same as the world seems to us.

    May 18, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  3. Steve

    I’d imagine it would give me a totally new perspective on the world and great special awareness. For me it would be a beeping system in my head, getting faster and slower depending on the distance and depth of my surroundings, kind of like having a built in 360 degree parking sensor!

    May 18, 2010 @ 5:19 pm

  4. Sue Rolfe

    I don’t think that the world ’seems’ like anything to dolphins since they don’t have a chance to judge their sonic feedback against some other imagined dolphin ‘reality’. I think their sonic feedback would give them direct experience of a swishing world with exciting fish and frond shapes which would allow them to calculate the swoop ratio for their next meal.

    May 18, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  5. Lisa Cleary

    White things are bright in light but they might not necessarily be hard in sonar so wouldn’t be noticed by dolphins in their world.

    May 18, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  6. admin

    I am thinking of echo sounders that you get on boats that work by a similar principle. These provide a very very different picture of things to how we perceive the world and as such to understand how a dolphin’s perception works requires a radical change in how humans (sighted and non sighted) experience the world. Imagining this opens out a really good space for me where most things that we think we know are set into flux.

    FLUX would be a good work then to describe how dolphins perceive the(ir) world.

    May 18, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  7. Mandy

    Sound would be constant, like it is for me, enabling identification of space, objects, and of others too. Perhaps the sound in the sea travels distances enabling dolphins to call each other across oceans. Sometimes sound would be painful, physically uncomfortable, like when you emerge your head completely in the bath and a mere drip becomes a vibrating crash of a noise.

    May 18, 2010 @ 10:14 pm

  8. Rachel

    my housemate 1 – wet and wibbly
    my housemate 2 – echoey so everything you approach is kind of shouting back at you. like your surroundings are constantly answering you.
    me – like a headache, but kind of nice.

    May 18, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

  9. Amanda Villepastour

    I have absolutely no idea. I would not wish to project my limited perception of the world onto a dolphin!

    May 19, 2010 @ 4:28 am

  10. Rosella Hart

    I think they see not only in a more ‘dimensional’ way, but partly also inside things, so it would be a bit like an xray, or rather they would detect the density/softness of an object from the bounce back (but they can see babies in the womb I think?) so sonar would be almost tactile as well.
    They would have a better sense of themselves in space, in relation to space, because they would be sensing and using distance much more. So empty space would be more of an object to them than it is to us.

    I suppose sonar is like vision/hearing but is neither of these things, that’s just the closest we have to compare, because they also ‘hear’ and ’see’ so sonar is a 6th sense…it remindes me of the way babies explore their world and the fact of three dimensions by putting things in their mouth, so they can perceive all sides at once with a very sensitive organ… so perhaps having sonar is a bit like putting somthing in your mouth, in the sense that you get an emcompassing picture of size, shape and hardness/softness all at once.

    I’ve been sonared by a wild dolphin. You feel and hear the click at the same time. It’s cool.

    May 19, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  11. Caroline

    I would think they have a much more detailed view of whats around them, way beyond the visual boundary. Something that gives a 3 dimentional map and is able to tell different materials, densities, movements, speed and direction. In other words more complete than anything we could experience without technology to help and almost instantaneous. How far does the sonar reach?

    May 19, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

  12. June

    I think the dolphin’s sonar world is very much like that of a blind person using their other senses or a cat using its whiskers in dark places – it’s similar to our form of shadow echo.

    May 20, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  13. Emma Spurgin Hussey

    I’ve never thought about it before… But, now I’m thinking, I for some reason imagine that sonar wouldn’t make 3-dimensional curves (why do I think this?). So, sort of flat curves, like those lines – forget name – that show elevation on maps, or like those sculptures built up from flat layers of wood. Only not like wood at all. Or maybe it’s very 3-dimensional indeed, so that water seems like mercury. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s very nice, or why would dolphins be smiling their heads off all the time?

    May 20, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  14. Amelia

    Maybe this is because I’m a musician and I love the thought that this could happen… I imagine a world where you get to sing at your surroundings and they sing back at you. The loudness and intensity of the sound would determine how close or far something is, and whether it is friend, foe, or neutral. I also imagine the ability to feel these sonar waves. (When sound waves are big enough or close enough you can feel them) So in addition to hearing, the more you feel the more that is around you. I don’t think it would be irritating though. I imagine it as getting a sound bath of sorts. Even if the surroundings are distressing, the sounds that come back to you reassures you about what is where.

    May 24, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  15. Holly

    I have absolutely no idea.

    May 25, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

  16. Kate

    I think that the world is experienced in vibrations and always by using the contrast to nothingness. It would be like experiencing the shape of a room or a space by shouting and listening to the echo, or lack of it, the absorption of sound suggesting soft surface, or the bouncing in a large, hard-surfaced room. It would be an active experience, having to give something out, in order to receive the information about your environment, it is not as passive as simply ‘looking’ to experience the world around you, it is an active exploration.

    Jun 08, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

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