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Keywords:

  • agency;
  • dolphins;
  • ambassador;
  • inter-species etiquette;
  • animal geography;
  • embassy

Abstract

Cetacean–human interaction, at sites where free-ranging dolphins approach humans, is occurring more than ever before. Management policies and strategies, and their underlying research, intended to protect both dolphins and humans during these interactive events, affect the quality and nature of interactivity. The agency of the dolphins, and its representation in management schemes, is analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis of selected texts from the discourse of Dolphin–Human Interaction Management (DHIM). Analysis suggests a prevailing discourse of protectionism but also reveals the possibility for a new kind of management scheme based upon an acceptance of the ‘significant otherness’ of non-human species. This can be achieved by means of inter-species etiquette, acknowledging the choices made by non-humans to interact with humans. An inter-species etiquette, coupled with multi-species education (education across species boundaries, designed and delivered so as to enable mutually beneficial interaction), offers those non-human animals widely referred to as ‘ambassadors’ safe places in which to be encountered. This new form of inter-species interaction space is named an ‘embassy’.