Kenneth W. LeVasseur
Ken LeVasseur has been studying dolphins for more than twenty five years. He invented a dolphin suit, and applied for a patent in 1971 (two patents were granted in 1975 and 1976). This streamlined suit was created so that researchers could comfortably approximate the speed of cruising dolphins while observing them in the wild.
In 1975, Ken moved into Louis Herman's University of Hawaii Marine Mammal Laboratory at Kewalo Basin where he lived with two dolphins, Puka and Kea. Ken lived 15 feet from Puka for two years. Ken's personal research concerned the range of opinions about dolphin mental abilities. Navy and oceanarium oriented researchers thought that the dolphin's intelligence was between that of a dog and a chimpanzee. Those who considered John Lilly's position legitimate realized that there was no scientifically defined argument or series of experiments that established an upper limit to dolphin mental abilities. Events that occurred while Ken lived at the lab have persuaded him that the latter position is more reflective of the true state.
In 1976, Ken graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Liberal Studies Degree in Inter, Intra and Introspecies Communication. This is the same year Lou Herman made a professional mistake that cost him his National Science Foundation funding and for which he was censured by the university. Conditions at the lab deteriorated for the dolphins. Eventually, Ken and Steve Sipman's complaints met with an impasse from Lou Herman. On May 29, 1977, Steve, Ken and some friends released Puka and Kea into the ocean at Yokohama Bay on Oahu, Hawaii after a streamlined rehabilitiation program. On the way to Yokohama Bay, Ken promised his friend Puka that he would get to the bottom of why the Navy and oceanariums would state that dolphin mental abilities were so low when there was no scientific evidence for it. Ken's almost twenty years of research on dolphin mental abilities shows unscientific and ulterior motives for this opinion on the part of Navy and oceanarium employees.
Ken believes that the solution to the captive dolphin issue is to upgrade the limits of human/dolphin interaction to a level commensurate with the dolphin's mental abilities, and giving dolphins choices that include termination of the relationship. This philosophy is embodied in the Third Phase Dolphin Facility which is dedicated to the late Dexter Cate.
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