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This 1960s Love Story About This Woman And Dolphin Is "The Shape Of Water" In Real Life

And yeah, it got a little sensual.

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Basically, the tl;dr is this: In the 1960s, NASA financed a project to try to teach dolphins to speak English. YES, actual dolphins took lessons and underwent training to get them to vocalize words and communicate with us humans.


How close, you might ask? Let me tell you: It was TOO close. They even started living together in a half-flooded lab facility, so that Peter could swim about freely.

It was Lovatt's idea. She argued that if she could be around the dolphins at all hours, they would be more interested in making human sounds. So she moved into the lab, waterproofed the upper floor, and flooded part of the interior so that Peter could live with her.

Soon, Lovatt and Peter's relationship took on a slightly different tone.

According to the Guardian article, the facility's dolphin vet noted, "Dolphins get sexual urges. I'm sure Peter had plenty of thoughts along those lines."

Lovatt said that Peter would rub himself on her knee, foot, or hand. The behavior started interfering with the language lessons, so Lovatt began to masturbate him.

According to Lovatt, she felt no discomfort in performing the act, saying that it was done with "a lot of respect," and that it was more "sensuous" than sexual.


After a few years, interest in the language project began to wane. Results weren't promising, and the LSD wasn't having the desired effect on the dolphins. So NASA withdrew funding.

At the project's end, Lovatt's role was done away with. The dolphins, Peter included, were transferred to other labs.

And, stuck in a smaller tank with hardly any light and without Lovatt, Peter killed himself.

Dolphins are not automatic breathers like we are – every breath is a conscious effort. So dolphins can hold their breath until they die, if they want to.

Lovatt wasn't totally upset when Peter died, because she didn't want him to suffer. "Nobody was going to bother Peter, he wasn't going to hurt, he wasn't going to be unhappy, he was just gone. And that was OK," she said.

Peter's vet put the dolphin's death down to a broken heart, caused by a "separation from Lovatt that he didn't understand."

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"Margaret could rationalise it, but when she left, could Peter? Here's the love of his life gone," he said. 😭 😭

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This post was translated from Portuguese.