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Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future
A typical male Dolphin (Tursiops galactus) measures between 2.75 and 3.95m from the tip of its powerful flukes to its snout, and weighs about 100 to 150kg. Females tend to be smaller and lighter, on average.
Their skin is smooth to the touch, and tends to be a purple-black along the dorsal surface, shading to white or light gray on the underside. Layers of fat make their hide equivalent to jack armour. Their eyes are located in the darker section of the face.
The brain of a Dolphin is 1.5 times the size of a human, although this should not be taken as a sign of greater (or lesser) intelligence. For the most part, this difference is due to the greater mass of the Dolphin body. The original dolphin lifespan was about 20 years, but the enhanced Dolphins typically live 50 to 60 years. Anagathics are available, with prices, benefits and risks similar to those used by humans.
The main Dolphin sense centres on their very accurate echo-location system. Geneering has improved this to give a 100m range. Dolphin hearing is able to detect sounds ranging in pitch from 150 to 150,000 Hertz (by contrast, Terran cats can hear sounds up to 50,000 Hz, bats to 75,000 Hz, and humans only up to 20,000 Hz).
Underwater eyesight is fairly keen, as it has been adapted for that environment. The lenses of their eyes are very globular and hence convex in nature in order to reverse the negative effects of aquatic reflection. However, this makes the Dolphin very near-sighted when out of the water. To counter this, many Dolphins wear corrective lenses when not in a Travel Suit (which has a special visor built-in).
The diet of Dolphins, like their semi-sentient ancestors, is wholly carniverous. Modern Dolphins do take great joy in sampling new foods and tastes. A Dolphin requires 110 calories per kg per day to sustain itself. This is far greater than the human need of 50 calories per kg per day. This translates to roughly 10% of body mass, per day.
Typical members of Tursiops galactus can dive for up to 15 minutes without respirator assistance. In practice, many wear tanked air supplies to allow a greater endurance for underwater operations. When swimming near the surface, Dolphins breathe 2 to 6 times per minute, increasing up to 8 after a long dive or period of exertion. Unlike humans, who normally use only 12.5% of their lung capacity, Dolphins almost completely empty and fill their lungs with every breath. Also, they store much more oxygen in their blood and muscle tissues than humans, which allows them to make such prolonged dives.
A single glance at the Dolphin body is enough to reveal the perfection of their streamlining. Nowhere in explored space is there a creature so perfectly evolved in a hydro-dynamic sense. As a rule of thumb, Dolphins can maintain 40 kph when swimming and can attain burst speeds of up to 60 kph.
Although normal swimming depth is above 30m, Dolphins can dive up to 200m in extreme cases (humans can only manage 125m unprotected). Furthermore, the physiology of a Dolphin is such that they are wholly immune to caisson disease ("the bends") which is a constant hazard to human divers.
The natural evolution of cetaceans on Terra is still something of a mystery, even to sciences of the 57th century (Terran dating). However, their "uplifting" to sentient status is well documented. The Solomani corporation Gen Assist, established to adapt Terran native lifeforms to alien climates, saw a need for creatures that could assist in colonising and developing worlds with high hydrographic percentages.
To that end, Gen Assist began research on dolphins during the Rule Of Man. As other species were dropped from Gen Assist's overall project, the dolphins had the full attention of the company trained on them, and rapidly attained true intelligence. In -1988, just prior to the collapse of the Rule Of Man , a handful of Dolphin colonies were seeded along the rimward frontiers of what is now the Solomani Sphere.
In the centuries since, the Dolphins have proved themselves to be fantastically adaptive and very loyal to the Solomani government. The reason for their loyalty has very little to do with political philosophies, as Dolphin psychology is radically different from their human patrons. Rather, each and every Dolphin is acutely aware that the Solomani gave them the gift of sentience, and they feel indebted to the Terrans for this. The Solomani have not discouraged this way of thinking; in fact, they have fostered it.
Dolphin culture is based on a belief in total equality. Everything is shared equally and each citizen is entitled to the full benefits of the society's capabilities. They are unable to understand many concepts which seem almost absolute to humans; for example, the ideas of property and land ownership. If one Dolphin has a tool that another needs, the latter simply takes the tool and returns it after use (is is customary to ask if the current holder has finished with the object first, but this is not unlike a human request to "borrow" an item). Further, the concept of land ownership is beyond them. They point out that "the sea is always in motion, so how can you claim a portion of it as yours?" In the same way, the land is in motion (although far more slowly), and similar reasoning results.
These concepts can result in problems when Dolphins interact with other lifeforms. On starships , for instance, Dolphin passengers have been known to take objects (such as jewelry) which appealed to them, without asking permission if the object did not seem to be currently in use. If confronted with the "theft", they gladly admit to it and cheerfully return the object as long as they have finished "using" it. Dolphins who have spent a great deal of time among other races eventually learn that this is considered improper behaviour by many others.
At this point, they usually modify their behaviour and ask to use things which others seem attached to. In such cases, they see this as a game they must play in order to "fit in".
Dolphins do not usually gather in large communities, but live in extended family groups of between 15 and 20 individuals. Family groups interact frequently, and it is not uncommon for two or more of them to dwell very near to one another. They simply do not have a structural society such as envisioned by humans and others. In most cases, colony worlds composed primarily of Dolphin settlers are classified by the Scouts as government code 0 (anarchy).
The actual number of individual Dolphins varies widely from world to world. On Terra, the original dolphins are extinct (they still thrive on a few other worlds, though) and the latest census counted about 2.5 million Dolphins.
While Dolphins are well-adapted for aquatic environments, they are handicapped when removed from them. In order to overcome such difficulties, science has come up with a number of devices which make life much more pleasant for Dolphins who must function out of the water.
The first and by far the most important of these is the Travel Suit (or Tee Suit). This is the Dolphin equivalent to a Vacc Suit, and contains a super-humid environment. A Grav Belt andan in-built commo system allows a Dolphin to move around and communicate when out of the water.
The second device is the Waldo. A serious handicap which Dolphins suffer is their lack of manipulatory appendages. This is unheard of in naturally occurring sophont species, but is not uncommon among the Solomani's "uplifted races". To overcome this problem, human scientists created mechanical manipulatory devices known as waldos. Waldos act as artificial "arms", which permit a dolphin to handle objects almost as well as humans. At TL 12, neural control plugs are available to be surgically implanted into the skull of a Dolphin. Waldos can then be plugged in, allowing them to be directed by nerve impulses.
Finally, Dolphin starships have certain modifications specifically tailored to their occupants. The most instantly obvious change is that such craft maintain a zero-gravity field aboard them at all times (even while grounded) so that the crew can move freely about without Tee Suits.
The atmosphere is a standard oxygen-nitrogen composition, but is very humid. This maintains normal moisture levels for the crew without having to keep compartments flooded. The ship is controlled by waldos or direct cybernetic links, as described above.
Ref: BOJ-2, 1104; DIGEST-13, 1122