When I heard this story about dolphins using sponges on their noses (Credit for photograph: PNAS / Janet Mann) to protect their sensitive snouts while foraging I was captivated. It is a skill--a learned behavior--that mothers pass on to daughters in Shark Bay off the western coast of Australia. One male was observed sponging. Most of the spongers are female. Apparently, the males aren't interested in learning this skill. They would rather be out socializing.
Learning about animals' abilities to use tools or have cultural interactions validates some inner knowing for me. I am not so anthropocentric that I think we are the only species who can learn, create, come up with ideas, or have ongoing relationships.
I do believe that we are responsible to other animals and for what we do to their environment--their habitat. I take seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of planetary resources; and I believe it is important to give back in a meaningful way. Recently, one of my clients told me, somewhat embarrassedly, that she gives money to a gorilla conservation organization. I think she was surprised when I said, "That's great!"
Good stewardship requires making conscious choices: recycle; buy, eat, use organic; give money; volunteer. Amazing to think that these behaviors can all add up to something if enough of us do them, isn't it?
Somehow hearing about dolphins using sponges for gloves on their rostrums reminds me that I am responsible. I am responsible to learn and practice new behaviors.
I am responsible for them.
Wanda Tucker, Coach