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Dolphins surfing in the inside of a wave just off the coast of Sydney


I bound down the steps of the ADC Building, round the third landing, and come to a screeching halt. In front of me is a glass door with "The National Parks and Wildlife Services of N.S.W." printed on it.

This is the place where Bulley got his permit to keep the dolphins at the Lion Park Safari. It has been about two weeks since I visited Bulley. He has been"out" to my calls. Perhaps now is the time to start dealing with the government. I didn't even know they were in this building.

What synchronicity, finding their offices just when I'm all dressed up with no place to go. I would have missed it, if I had taken the elevator down from the Dai Nippon office. Also, nothing is happening with the Dolphin book so I do have the time to negotiate with the Parks and Wildlife people. Time to attack.

I push open the door, part of me feeling I should be running down the stairs, following the I Ching's advice. Inside, a maze of desks and low partitions fill the room from one side of the building to the other. A secretary looks up, "Can I help you?"

"I'm looking for the officer in charge of permits for holding dolphins in dolphinaria."

She leads me back through the desks and we stop at one piled high with books and magazines. The young man looks up, smiles, and lifts himself out of his chair, "Hi, what can we do for you?"

"My name is Dr. Richard Chesher. I'm a marine biologist visiting Sydney. A group of people approached me about the dolphins at the Warragamba Lion Park Safari. I've been out to look at them. The conditions there are appalling. I understand there have been numerous stress related deaths in the pool. I believe your agency granted the license to hold dolphins there."

"Too true," He glances around, "and frankly we're not very happy about it either. The former director granted the permit. It allows the Lion Park Safari to hold 16 dolphins in his pool and I don't think it's right either. Not that he's ever had that many. We haven't been able to do much, though, because we don't have the expertise to say what's right for dolphins and what's not." He offers me a chair.

"Suppose I provide the technical information demonstrating the holding conditions are not adequate?" I sit down.

"Well, I think we'd be able to deny him permits if you could show the facility was really not adequate. But you'd want to talk to Mr. Hill, the enforcement officer. He's out of the office just now....perhaps if you came back later?"

"I appreciate your help." I stand and he does too.

He grins, "Doc, I hope we hear from you. I've seen that pool out there and if I could have, I'd have let the dolphins out of there the same day. Good luck."

"Thanks. We have been trying to negotiate with the owner, but it looks like we won't get very far." We shake hands and I go out into a cool, sunny downtown Sydney.

For better or for worse, I have decided to go to war. I laugh, remembering the I Ching's warning, "don't start a war." Looks like the Oracle was right after all. And, although it predicts I will fail, the memory of the dolphin's plea haunts me. I find myself really enjoying the thought of rampaging after the evil circus-master and his crowd of dolphin killers. Action!

The bridge of consciousness

A common dolphin races Moira off the New South Wales coast.

"The practically lost art of listening is the nearest of all acts to Eternity," William Butler Yeats. I close J. Allen Boone's book, "Kinship With All Life," and think about the Yeats quote and Boone's book. Jim Boone is the great grandson of Daniel Boone and his book details the many ways animals communicate with humans and how humans could understand so much more of the world around them if they bothered to pay attention. Every animal biologist working on communication systems should read this book.

Boon and Yeats both sense the "bridge between all life forms through which the consciousness of the planet flows." Boone writes well. I get up and fix some coffee.

There is also a bridge between "me" and the cells collectively making "me." And the communications flowing along this bridge are very real and, in fact, are the reason I'm able to stand here in the galley of the Moira and make coffee.

And there is a bridge between dolphins and me.

Between Walter the Cat, Freddy, and me.

And along these bridges of communications the whole gamut of planetary consciousness flows: all the communications networking all at once.

I take my overfilled coffee cup back to the dinette, moving gingerly with much consciousness flowing through and over the bridges of my life. It's been a busy week for communications.

Estelle wants to hold a giant press conference with her whole "We Are One" group in attendance. But Terry Hill, the enforcement officer at the National Parks and Wildlife Services, told me they would send Ted Smyth, the curator of fishes at the Taronga Park Zoo out to look over the Lion Park Safari facility. If he says there is a violation of any of the permit conditions, they will cancel the permit, seize the animals and release them. I wonder what the permit conditions could be if they gave him permission to keep 16 dolphins in a 40-foot diameter pool?

Anyway, he warned if Estelle goes ahead with a major press action they would have to back off. I wonder why?

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to the Mr. T. A. Johnstone, Director of the National Parks and Wildlife Services, condemning the holding conditions for the dolphins. I asked Professor Frank Talbot, head of the Center for Environmental Studies at Mcquarie University, to write as well. He did.

I sent telegrams to the American Cetacean Society, John Lilly, Sidney Holt, and Greenpeace asking if they have any scientific documentation on physiological or psychological problems of keeping dolphins in small tanks.

We are One

On Death's Row, serving a life sentence for no reason at all.

Nancy, Angela, and Claire drive Freddy and me to a "We Are One" meeting at Estelle's Rainbow Cottage. This turns out to be a small cottage overlooking a dramatic series of cliffs south of Sydney. There are 8 cars pulled up alongside the road in front of the house. Estelle, dressed in a flowing white robe with (of course) a big rainbow on it, opens the door in mid sentence and talks us in. "....my personal destiny to free dolphins all over the world because you see, my Karma demands it. Why? I've heard from some of my family in Europe and learned the Levi's, my Mother's branch of the family, once used dolphin skins in their ancient Hebrew ceremonies, of course that was really a very long time ago, even before Christ, and they were used with tremendous respect.... Richard, Nancy, Claire, Freddy, this is John Lewis, John is the son of one of our former Premier of New South Wales and is an incredible film maker and was a major contributor to the Greenpeace project to stop whaling in Australia who now wants to help us free the dolphins in oceanaria all over the world. He wants to talk to you about the project so I'll leave you to it..... but still, they did use dolphin skins and so it is my karma to..." and she drags off Nancy and Angela and Claire talking a mile a minute.

John Lewis and I stand there looking at each other in the vacuum of the Stellar Rainbow's wake. He's a young man with black hair, medium build, and an intelligent face.

"What brings you to Rainbow Estates?" I finally ask.

"I came because Estelle said you would be here. I'm not one of her followers, if that's what you're wondering. But I am very sympathetic with the idea of stopping the Lion Park Safari dolphin insanity." He turns and looks out the large window at the panorama of beaches far below. "Hell-of-a place for sky diving."

"You a sky diver?" I ask as Freddy goes off to get us a couple of drinks. Many of the guests, including John, are wearing Estelle's T-Shirts with the huge bulls-eye bordered with a rainbow and the "We Are One" logo.

He shakes his head no."But I like to watch, and have thought about making a film about it. This would be a great spot." He gestures towards the cliffs.

"I saw some footage on sky divers the other day on "That's Incredible." Did you see it? About the guy who crashed?" He shakes his head.

"Well the guy was demonstrating his new hang-glider with a tiny motor and prop on the front. He goes soaring up and the camera follows him as he does this graceful climbing turn. He keeps turning and turning until the contraption comes down like a lawn chair dropped from a 747. The guy with the camera runs over to the wreckage, camera bouncing on his shoulder making the picture leap all over the place. He comes in for a tight shot of the pilot's face. Real pain, good stuff. The pilot opens his eyes a little and murmurs, "I can't move my legs."

John looks away from the drop in front of us, "Ugg. That's incredible."

"No, that wasn't incredible, that's normal for hang-gliding. The incredible part showed the guy a year later with his new hang-glider. See, the guy was paralyzed from the neck down, all he could move was his head. They showed him out on top of a cliff like this one, lying on the ground. He looks up into the camera and says, "I'd lie in the hospital day after day thinking I'm Dead, I'm Dead, unable to move anything but my head and my mouth. Then I got the idea of building a hang glider I could be strapped into, one I could steer with my neck muscles" - and they show his friends strapping him into this contraption. The pilot's voice narrates - "Maybe I'll crash and die but for one brief moment I'd have full mobility again, able to fly on the wind and lift and turn and be truly alive." Four of his friends pick up the hang-glider with him strapped under it and run towards the cliff edge. They chuck him off and he zooms up into the air, flying like a bird."

"Jesus! That's really incredible," John gapes. "Did he crash?"

"He came down with a resounding thud, with his nose as a landing skid in the sand. But he survived it to try again." I see John visualizing the shots and thinking what it would be like to film something like that.

"It reminded me of the Dolphins," I add thoughtfully. "Paralyzed in that little swimming pool, day after day, thinking I'm Dead, I'm Dead. Willing to do anything to be flying again. You going to make a film about the great dolphin escape?"

He grins, "I'm interested. But I think it's more important to get them out than to make a movie."

"What's this about you helping to stop whaling in Australia?"

"Estelle told you my father used to be PM for New South Wales. I attended lots of functions where most of the power people of the State would get together and drink. One day a Frenchman named Jean came up to me at one of the parties and started telling me he had come to Australia on a mission to stop all whaling here. He was quite a guy, really intense. And I had just had an amazing experience with a dolphin - the day before the party. So I listened to him and decided to join in. He formed the Australian chapter of reenpeace, and together we organized the whole movement: complete with sit-ins and demonstrations. Eventually, as you know, we won."

"You still in touch with Greenpeace? I've been thinking they might help us with this."John looks down at his drink and shakes his head, "I don't know. Maybe. I haven't had much contact with them since Australia quit whaling. Mostly because I was too busy, but also because the original group kind of moved aside and the new people are ultraconservative."

"Conservative Greenpeacers? An odd combination." I laugh.

"We'll go see them. Maybe I'm wrong. But they considered me to be a bit too much of an activist. The present Greenpeace approach is to hold meetings and discussions with the Government or Industry and lay off any public demonstrations," He elaborates.

"Sometimes the Government or Industry will deal in private but not in public. In fact, that's what I've been doing - talking with Bulley and the Wildlife people trying to make a deal." I look around, wondering what happened to Freddy. She's talking with someone but sees me looking and starts over with our drinks.

"So Estelle says. She wants to get on with it, you know. She's planning a giant press meeting on Thursday. You going to go?" John looks at me while I glance at Estelle who is vigorously waving her arms around while she talks to a small knot of her followers.

"No, I'm not going to go. Somebody has to be in a position to negotiate with the people who hold the dolphins." I take my drink from Freddy, wondering if I can get Estelle to hold off until after the guy from the Zoo goes out to the Lion Park.

"Why? Why don't we just go out there one night and liberate them, set them free?" John looks at me carefully. He's testing me.

"Because the Lion Park is only one facility. I want to deal with all of them. Plus, what's to stop Bulley from buying some more and, in the process getting a bunch of them killed during the capture process?" I let this sink in and add, "Besides, we would automatically alienate any sympathetic ears in Government and in the Press and in quite a large segment of the public. Right now Bulley is on the defensive in an indefensible position. If we liberate them illegally, he'll have the offensive in a very defensible position."

"OK, I accept that. Especially the part about Bulley killing more dolphins to replace those we liberate." John smiles to himself for an instant, a real politician's kid.

"You said you had an experience with a dolphin just before you met Jean. What was it?" I prompt.

Johns face goes blank for a moment, his mouth slack, his eyes looking right through me into his dolphin experience. "I do a lot of surfing. Up and down the coast, sometimes in remote places where some big stuff comes in like no place else in the world. But I used to do my regular workout off Bondi Beach almost every day. Surfers here in Australia consider dolphins to be their lucky charm. Maybe because some big sharks come in along the beaches here."

"I've seen the fenced in swimming areas around the harbor. Are sharks really a problem?" I ask.

"We've had some people taken.... Anyway, I was out there one day watching for the big wave, just sitting on my board with my legs dangling over the edge. It was a beautiful day, early in the morning. Bondi Beach was kind of glowing in the morning light and the waves were long swells - not much wind. I was looking at the beach when this monstrous pointed snout came out of the water right next to my leg and I saw ten thousand white teeth flash out of that black snout and snap closed on my board, just half an inch from my knee. There was this awful crunching sound as it bit and the same exact instant a dolphin came soaring through the air right across in front of me and smacked into the shark. So the crunch was followed by a enormous splash and bone jarring thud." John's eyes are wide, his pupils dilated as he tells the story. He's not making it up.

"And they were gone, both of them. I became an instant and total dolphin convert. I'd do anything for them. I know I'd have been killed that day if the dolphin had not been there. I saw death in those teeth and in that shark eye. I was so scared I couldn't move. I only saw the dolphin for an instant, but it's image is forever burned in my mind. I've still got the board with a bite almost 18 inches wide taken out of it."

Freddy and I arrive back on the Moira at midnight. John Lewis and I spent the evening talking about making a film....a film about the freeing of the dolphins. It starts with the dolphins calling for freedom from the pool and shows the principals answering the call: Peter, David and the Simply Living crowd, Estelle and the We Are One bunch, Nancy and Angela from Whale Beach, Burnam Burnam as a representative of the Aborigines, and Me being called from as far away as Papua New Guinea. All of us think the call is a spiritual one from some kind of delphinic mind of the Sea but we discover the call is from within ourselves. The delphinic mind is a data-display-error as our conscious minds interpret real signals from real dolphins trapped at the Lion Park. We document the fight to free them and their liberation into the sea. Sounds good, if and it's a big if, we can get Bulley to free the dolphins.

I discovered our tactful Rainbow Lady called Bulley's wife and told her we were going to go on the John Laws TV show and raise all kinds of hell if Bulley didn't come around soon. Wonderful. I'm sure Bulley will be overjoyed and ready to sit down with us. More than likely, he'll simply call the studio management and threaten to drop his advertisements or sue them. Christ, what a pain in the ass Estelle can be. But she did agree to hold off on the press conference until after the character from the zoo goes out to the park and makes his report.

As we close up Moira for the night, I wonder what the Oracle has to say about all this. Freddy goes to bed. I take the I Ching out of the bookshelf and form the question, "Am I on the right path; Freeing the dolphins, making a movie about the dolphin/human Sydney connection?"

56. The Wanderer. above, LI, The Clinging, Fire. below KEN Keeping Still, MountainThe coins jangle to the table and the Oracle answers with "The Wanderer" changing to "Splitting Apart." I read the words with renewed awe at the direct application of the answer to my question. Here am I, a wanderer in a strange land, trying to insert myself into a tender political and business issue. The oracle tells me, "The wanderer should be cautious and reserved. He must be obliging towards others and not give himself airs. Be careful."

And with 9 in the third place, "He meddles in affairs and controversies that do not concern him and then loses his resting place. He treats his servant with arrogance and aloofness and thus looses loyalty. When a stranger in a strange land has no one left the situation becomes dangerous."

And with 9 in the 4th place, "The wanderer limits his desires and at least finds a place of shelter, but is not secure and must always be on guard."

Splitting apart: "It is not favorable for the superior man to undertake anything. Submit to the bad time and remain still and quiet."

Clear enough, even for me. It's the second time in a row the I Ching said I'm arrogant and aloof and I'm going to alienate my friends.

yinyangs.WMF (5012 bytes)

Animal Liberation?

Estelle has arranged a meeting with Animal Liberation, an international animal rights group with offices near the ferries in downtown Sydney. My ferry comes in a little early so I wander over to their offices. Freddy has decided she wants no part of anything involving Estelle and stayed aboard Moira. I am on the edge of feeling exactly the same and would drop this whole affair as per the I Ching's recommendation except....except for the dolphins and the dreams of being trapped in Bulley's swimming pool.

I open the door to the Animal Liberation office and a tall, pleasant woman introduces herself as Christine Townsend, the manager of the Australian Branch. She sits me down and comments, "I've been interested in the problem of the dolphins at the Lion Park for some time and have been wishing something could be done."

This strikes me as an odd sort of thing to say since Animal Liberation would appear to be in a position to have done something already. Anyway, I tell her about my encouraging talks with the Wildlife people and explain the idea of having some kind of sea-side park open to the ocean where the dolphins would be able to interact with man on an equal rights basis. She listens thoughtfully as I talk.

The door bursts open and in comes Estelle (in mid-sentence of her steady super-WOW-monologue). A small army of We Are One bulls-eyes and a very reluctant and unsympathetic reporter from one of Sydney's major newspapers waddle in after her like so many little duckies.

Christine is appalled. I sort of stand around stupidly in the background while Estelle does her Fantasia chipmunk/hippopotamus ballet around the office grinning and prancing and chittering away. The photographer looks at me with a lop-sided grin, "So you're the Yank who's stirring the shit, huh?" and takes a picture of me. Wonderful.

"Tomorrow," Estelle bugles in a nasal voice loud enough to inform the whole north shore of Sydney, "We are going to have a meeting at the University of Sydney with the Parks and Wildlife Service, Dr. Teddy Smyth of the Taronga Park Zoo, Dr. Ron Hide of the University of Sydney (the Veterinarian for the Lion Park Safari), The dolphin trainer, Dr. Richard Chesher, and myself."

"On SAT-UR-DAY," she looks daggers at the reporter who is staring blankly out the window, not paying the slightest attention, "We are going to hold a dem-on-stra-tion at the Lion Park Saf-ar-i to show the public our sin-cer-ity in freeing the dolphins imprisoned at the horrid facility there."

Pivot Point

Freddy is fixing dinner as I tell her of the day's developments. She shrugs, "That woman is nuts. I can't stand her."

But at least Estelle is doing something.....I try to imagine how the Wildlife people are going to react to the Stellar Rainbow's news conference. How Bulley will react. And in both cases I see them pulling into their shells and closing the doors firmly. Bulley will probably hire extra guards for the park.

Well, I warned them this would happen if they didn't cooperate. And there hasn't been any progress yet. Although they are at least talking about it. According to Giles, Bulley and the Wildlife people are seriously working on the problem.

I can't decide if the Estelle attack will help or hurt or make no difference. I especially can't decide if I should be at the University of Sydney tomorrow in my We Are One T-shirt, sitting at the table next to Estelle.

I dig out the coins and ask the I Ching, "There is to be a meeting at the University of Sydney between Ted Smyth, Dr. Hide, Genene, Jack Giles, and Estelle. Should I attend?"

39. Obstruction. above K'AN The Abysmal, Water. below KEN Keeping Still, MountainI roll the coins six times and the hexagram is "Obstruction"; Retreat and Prepare. The hexagram pictures a dangerous abyss lying before us and a steep, inaccessible mountain rising behind us.

OK, clear enough.

"One must join forces with friends of like mind and put himself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation. With 6 in the 4th place, "A situation that can not be managed singlehanded. Gather friends. Hold back." and this changes to the hexagram "Influence (Wooing)," with my normal message to be humble and free and hidden and people will bring good advice. Influence through gentle wooing is successful. Reasonable. Very reasonable.

"That's exactly what I told you," Freddy humphs when I tell the I Ching's advice. "Why is it you pay more attention to that book than to me?"

"I don't. I'm just interested in how this process works. Really, the odds are fantastic against it coming up with all these reasonable answers."

"Well, I think the odds are fantastic that you have to keep on asking it such stupid questions." She snaps.

"OK, so I won't go to the meeting." I pick up the coins again and ask, "Should I go to the demonstration on Saturday at the Lion Park Safari?"

56 The WandererThe coins clatter on the table six times and the answer sends chills up my spine. "The Wanderer" changing to "The Unexpected." This is the second time I Ching has answered me with The Wanderer: the image of a stranger in a strange land messing around in a public controversy. And I remember the face of the photographer and his comment about "The Yank stirring the shit."

"Now what are you asking it?" Freddy is watching me from the galley.

"If I should go to the demonstration on Saturday."

Freddy rolls her eyes up and shakes her head. "So, what did it say?"

"In a word, NO. Stay behind the scenes and lay low."

She smiles and turns back to dinner on the stove, "Smart. I hope you listen to us this time."

"Yeah, I intend to." But as I say this, I'm reading the follow-on prediction about "25. The Unexpected." Something, it seems, will surprise the Wanderer on Saturday. "Innocence. Supreme success. Perseverance furthers. Man has received from heaven a nature innately good, to guide him in all his movements. By devotion to this divine spirit within himself, he attains an unsullied innocence that leads him to do right with instinctive sureness and without any ulterior thought of reward and personal advantage." Hmmm. Now what do you make of that, Richard, my boy?

And when the I Ching says I should put myself under the leadership of a man equal to the situation, who could that possibly be?

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