Worst Idea Ever? Couple Plans Dolphin-Assisted Birth

Heather and Adam Barringer's idea has been called horrible by experts
Heather and Adam Barringer's idea has been called horrible by experts

Adam Barringer, 29, and his pregnant wife Heather, 27, have traveled from North Carolina to Pohoa, Hawaii, to welcome their forthcoming baby, Bodhi, into the world - surrounded by a pod of dolphins. Because when a plain old water birth isn't enough, why not introduce some giant marine mammals to the mix?

Aside from unicorns and narwhals, dolphins may be the creatures most revered by the New-Age set, but as lovely and magnificent as they may be, experts warn that dolphins can be unpredictable and dangerous. They are, after all, wild animals.

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"My professional opinion: this has to be, hands down, one of the worst natural birthing ideas anyone has ever had (and that is saying a lot)," writes Christie Wilcox at Discover Magazine.

Wilcox cites research revealing that dolphins will "toss, beat, and kill small porpoises or baby sharks for no apparent reason other than they enjoy it, though some have suggested the poor porpoises serve as practice for killing the infants of rival males."

"Is this an animal you want to have at your side when you're completely vulnerable?" she asks.

The birth is to take place at The Sirius Institute, a tax-exempt consortium with the purpose of "dolphinizing" the planet, according to the website. A second goal is the "humanization of space" which involves the settlement of the solar system and beyond, they add. (No mention was made of dolphinizing space, however.)

But whether or not a dolphin-assisted birth is safe or sane may not be the most pressing issue; to each his own, and all. But what about the dolphins themselves? More than 40,000 people swim with dolphins every year in "swim with dolphins" programs, and experts fear these facilities are harming dolphin populations.

"Research indicates that, in some areas heavily targeted by commercial swim tours and other human activities, dolphins are actually leaving their traditional habitat in favor of quieter areas," writes the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. "There is concern that disruption to feeding, resting, nursing and other behavior may have a long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and populations."

What may bring "peace, comfort and strength" to mom, could be bringing harm to the beloved dolphins.

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