CONTEXT is the name of an interdisciplinary research project that has its goal in the analogous comparison of communication forms of highly developed mammals especially those of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and humans. New epistemological approaches are developed and used to provide a greater access to the understanding of animal behaviour and cognition. The analogous comparison of different species are based on an interdisciplinary co-operation by using ethological methods for observing animals as well as humans. Due to a systematic contemplation of nature as well as a contextual integration of behavioural elements one obtains a more extensive and detailed picture of the creature in question.

Because such phenomenons as consciousness cannot be proven directly one examines the non-human species in the corresponding complexity of their life styles.

Examinations concerning the variants of social structures and forms of communication have revealed that whales and dolphins show significantly complex levels. Communication studies of the last 25 years on e.g. bottlenose dolphin, orcas or humpbacks have lead us to our focused interest in cetaceans and in our case in short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus). One found out that dolphins can communicate acoustically with people, that the songs of some species of baleens change every year and that orcas use family related dialects that are not passed on genetically. Another point is that the life situation of pilot whales off the coast of the canary island Tenerife is in danger due to increasing whalewatching and generally boat trips for tourists (ferries, sports). Only in 1993 there were 30 officially registered boats and also a big number of touristic vessels without any license.

Thus the understanding of these complex living creatures should lead to the protection of the increasingly threatened whale and dolphin species especially the pilot whales near the island of Tenerife. Our results are to become an integral part of effective public measures which help to make the value of wild life in the sea more accessible to people by properly organised whale-watch trips.

The Initiators:

Peter Itay Behr, University of Bremen, interpecies communication, cognitive aspects of human communication, religious ethology. Born 25 August 1968, German and Israeli citizen, Bismarckstr. 68, 28203 Bremen, Germany, Phone. +49-421-779 80.

Bianka Hofmann, University of Bremen, interpecies communication, cognitive aspects of human communication, behavioral biology of highly evolved mammals, religious ethology. Born 20 August 1970, German, Bismarckstr. 68, 28203 Bremen, Germany, Phone, +49-421- 779 80.

Michael Scheer, University of Bremen, interspecies communication, behavioral biology, cetology (biology of whales and dolphins). Born 15 Janury 1969, Germany Vor dem Steintor 92, 28203 Bremen, Germany, Phone. -+49-421-731 87.

Ralf Hinz, commercial management. Born 1 August 1963, German, Hinrich-Fehrs Str. 17, 28201 Bremen, Germany, Phone,- +49-421-557 9621.

Barbara Schüll, public relations and organisation. Born 30 June 1958, German, Humboldtst. 117, 28203 Bremen, Germany, Phone. +49-421-74747.

For general correspondence please contact: Projekt CONTEXT,Vor dem Steintor 92, 28203 Bremen Germany, Phone: +49-421-731 87, Fax. +49-421-764 82.

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Rauno Lauhakangas