Margaret Howe Lovatt, a researcher who participated in a NASA-funded experiment to teach dolphins to speak English, got more than she bargained for when an adolescent dolphin became sexual with her. But she didn't mind.
Lovatt was part of a small group of researchers who worked with dolphins in the 60s. She was tasked with helping Peter (no pun intended), an adolescent dolphin learn to communicate in English so that he would tell the government all the secrets of the deep —Where is Atlantis? Is King Triton actually that handsome IRL? Why is Flipper so annoying all the time? — but the dolphin, who was coming into his own sexually, had other ideas. Now Lovatt has spoken out about the experiments for the first time.
"Peter liked to be... with me. He would rub himself on my knee, my foot or my hand and I allowed that.
"I wasn't uncomfortable - as long as it wasn't too rough. In the beginning I would put him on the elevator and say you go play with the girls for a day.
"It was just easier to incorporate that and let it happen, it was very precious and very gentle, Peter was right there, he knew that I was right there."
Lovatt has kept her silence on the experiments, which ended with scandal and accusations of dolphins being abused by being forced to take LSD, for many years but now a new documentary — The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins — is letting her discuss her relationship with Peter for the first time. And she says their relationship wasn't sexual, at least not in the way that Hustler made it sound when they published a report on the pair.
"It was sexual on his part - it was not sexual on mine, sensuous perhaps.
"It would just become part of what was going on like an itch, just get rid of that we'll scratch and we would be done and move on.
"I was there to get to know Peter, that was part of Peter."