The Woman Who Fell in Love With NASA’s Drug and Sex Addicted Dolphin

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A NASA funded project from the 1960s that went terribly wrong

Peter the dolphin and Margaret Howe Lovatt in 1967 (Source: BBC)

he 20th-century had always presented itself with some very weird projects and to say the least, obscure experiments. However, one very unknown experiment that was done with the help of NASA was the “Mind of the Dolphin” study which besides other facts, wanted to mainly prove the higher cerebral capacity that dolphins have and obviously, find a way to use this for the “greater good”.

The interesting part is that this project was funded by NASA and really they have nothing to do with the nature of this project. In a way, I get it as finding out how dolphins can use a bigger portion of their cerebral capacity can help us unlock a way to use more of our cerebral capacity ( in other words become much more intelligent). But, NASA hasn’t really taken part in any other projects as they were too busy (both effortlessly and financially) with the Space Race brought by the Cold War during that period of time.

Doctor John C. Lilly and Peter the Dolphin (Source: Malcolm Brenner)

The man behind the project was Doctor John Lilly that came up with a theory that Dolphins can actually communicate with Humans because of their higher intelligence than any other Mamiffer. The idea was to have a human being (of the opposite sex to the dolphin) live with the dolphin for as long as humanly possible whilst stimulating the dolphin’s brain using LSD. Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has a major impact on the brain such as the increase of brain blood flow, electrical activity, and network communication patterns that correlated strongly with the drug’s hallucinatory and other consciousness-altering properties.

Dr. John Lilly, who started experimenting with LSD during the project (Source: The Guardian)

The Doctor observed the marine mammal living with another human to see if this would induce the potential of the dolphin’s brain. Volunteer naturalist — Margaret Howe Lovatt was chosen to partake in this experiment due to her loving animals and thinking she could spend up to 10 weeks confined in the same space with a dolphin. Also, the idea of building an interspecies communication bridge has fascinated Margaret, she believed in her gift of being able to communicate with Dolphins, and strangely enough, this was observed within the experiment.

Margaret Howe Lovatt and Peter the dolphin in 1967 (Source: BBC)

For 10 weeks, Margaret and Peter lived in a partially flooded, two-room house. The two were always interacting with each other be it eating, sleeping, working, or just playing together. Margaret slept on a bed soaked in saltwater and worked at a floating deck so that Peter could interact with her at any given time, she also spent hours trying to teach him simple words. Margaret really seemed to understand what Peter was saying or at least wanting…

After 2 weeks into the experiment, Margret and Peter were living a normal life together, but there were no promising results as of yet. So Doctor Lilly decided to give the dolphin some LSD to stimulate Peter’s brain in order to get quicker results or even better results. This did actually have an effect on the dolphin as it made him uninterested in his communication lessons with Margret and actually made the dolphin horny, craving for Margret in a sexual manner.

Margaret Howe Lovatt working at her office whilst distracted by Peter the dolphin in 1967 (Source: BBC)

This Is where the experiment gets very weird and really mind-boggling. Peter eventually started nibbling Margaret’s feet and legs, when his advances were not reciprocated, he became violent with Margaret. Seeing that Peter was getting no attention, he began courting Margaret by gently rubbing his teeth up and down her leg and showing off his genitals. What is even more disturbing is that Margaret reciprocated and started rubbing the dolphin’s erection.

You don’t believe me, here is a video showing Margaret Howe Lovatt admitting this in an interview.

John .C. Lilly, the neuroscientist overseeing the research lost both credibility and funding as this wrong turn of events reached the media. Even if NASA did encourage the experiment, they said that they had nothing to do with the experiment in order to protect their reputation.

Due to this, Peter was sent to a Dolphinarium in Miami to be taken care of. The dolphin was still having some drawbacks from all the LSD he had consumed, but most importantly, he went into depression as he wasn’t around Margret anymore. In a short period of time, Peter died.

Some say that his death was caused by a broken heart and that he actually committed suicide by stopping to breathe. The more plausible theory is that he had died from lung problems caused by the intake of LSD. Nevertheless, the experiment did show that dolphins are quite intelligent, Bruce Clarke from Texas Tech University written a paper where he reviewed the exepriment and its efficiency at actually putting Doctor’s John Lilly theory and hypothesis to the test.

The experiment was forgotten quickly due to all the important events brought by the Cold War.

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