This is dolphin-itely a terrible idea.
A North Carolina couple says they have traveled to Hawaii so that dolphins can assist the birth of their child.
Heather Barrington, 27, and Adam Barrington, 29, told the Charlotte Observer that a book called “The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life" gave them the bright idea.
The couple flew to Pohoa, Hawaii in April to begin the months-long preparation for the birth, which is expected to happen in July. They are staying with Paradise "Star" Newland, one of the founders of the Sirius Institute. According to the organization's website:
"Sirius Institute is a research consortium with the purpose of "dolphinizing" the planet. This means the integration of the Cetacea (dolphins and whales) into our culture as we raise the level of consciousness to more like theirs. A second goal is the 'humanization of space' which involves the settlement of the solar system and beyond."
The plan is for the Barringtons to spend months trying to bond with a dolphin pod, after which Heather will give birth surrounded by the animals.
The Sirius Institute states that dolphin-attended birth uses "free dolphins," not animals kept in captivity. The website states that pregnant women encounter the dolphins in "coastal areas throughout the islands where dolphins come close to the shore."
“It’s total relaxation for the mother,” Adam Barrington told the Charlotte Observer.
Science writer Christie Wilcox, however, says "this has to be, hands down, one of the worst natural birthing ideas anyone has ever had."
On her blog for Discover Magazine, Wilcox points out that though dolphins are intelligent and frequently friendly toward humans, they have also been known to attack people with basically no warning.
Oh yeah, they also might try to rape you.
Wilcox also notes that when Penn and Teller spoke with the Sirius Institute in 2008, the duo found that no mothers who met with the Institute actually ended up undergoing dolphin-assisted birth.
Dolphin-attended birth might not be a great idea for the dolphins, either. Research from the U.K.'s Newcastle University shows that wild "swim with dolphins" tours are detrimental to dolphin populations, disrupting the animals' resting, feeding and social behavior.
That's not to say that captive dolphins fare any better. According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, dolphins held captive for "swim with dolphins" programs typically live miserable lives.