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Humans and Dolphins – A Fascinating History

August 09, 2017 / dolphins,

It seems humans have always been fascinated with dolphins, and, arguably, vice versa. Ancient drawings and frescos featuring dolphins have been uncovered in the Bronze Age ruins of Knossos, Greece. Amazing tales of dolphin and human interaction have been passed down among island communities for countless generations. It’s also believed that some ancient civilizations saw dolphins as a spiritual connector linking the Gods and humans. There’s also no shortage of modern stories that support a meaningful and genuine affection between our two species.

 By examining history, it becomes abundantly clear that the connection between mankind and dolphinkind goes well beyond the occasional observation. We share a far more profound relationship. One that has weathered periods of misunderstanding and shortsightedness to forge a fascinating tale of two species that seem to share an intrinsic bond. This article hopes to point out a few of the more fascinating details of dolphin and human history.


Dolphins were swimming in the seas long before man was roaming the land. However, when our two worlds met, a historic relationship was begun. Artifacts and generational tales paint a clear picture of early man’s fascination, and in some cases, deification of dolphins. Throughout the ages fishermen have told stories of how dolphins led them to an abundant catch, while men lost at sea have sworn that dolphins brought them safely to the surface and watched over them until they could be rescued.

There are also plenty of tales in modern times in which wild dolphins have saved human lives. In 2002, an Australian man was adrift at sea after his vessel capsized. Bleeding profusely from wounds sustained in the accident, he quickly drew the attention of sharks. However, he watched in amazement as a pod of dolphins began to circle him in a protective posture. He was rescued and survived the ordeal. In another case, a 24-year-old surfer was suddenly attacked by a Great White Shark, when about 15 bottlenose dolphins immediately surrounded him, forming a barrier between he and the shark. The surfer was able to get safely to shore and, though severely wounded, lived to tell this remarkable tale. 


Perhaps, what’s most remarkable about the tale of human and dolphin interaction, is that we’re just as fascinated with these amazing marine mammals nowadays as we were thousands of years ago. The difference is we currently boast the technology and resources to study, protect and understand dolphins like never before. One of the most important ways we do this is by creating certified and highly regulated marine mammal habitats, such as the tidal-fed ocean environments found at the award-winning Dolphins Plus facilities in Key Largo Florida.

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While tales of wild dolphin heroics are remarkable, it’s important to remember that it’s not at all safe or smart to interact with dolphins in the open ocean. They, like all intelligent creatures, are susceptible different moods, fears, and frustrations, and may act upon them. That’s what makes habitats such as those at Dolphins Plus so important. People are able to connect with dolphins in safe and controlled environments that further the timeless bond our species share and help us all better understand mankind’s closest relation in the sea.

You probably know more than one person, or, perhaps, even are someone who has listed “swimming with dolphins” on their bucket list. That’s because there’s an innate fascination with these amazing and intelligent marine mammals that’s hardwired within so many people. It’s a link that dates back thousands of years, and it’s nice to know we’re understanding and appreciating each other better than ever before thanks to interaction programs and research being conducted at habitats like those of Dolphins Plus. If you’d like to learn more or arrange your own dolphin interaction, please visit

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