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Models of mutual thriving and collaborative cohabitation among human and non-human coastal species inform conservation, education, and wellbeing.

Authors:

Abstract

In certain coastal areas of the world, humans and non-human coastal systems and species including marine mammals, live within a general trend of thriving and even at times, mutually collaborative cohabitation. In these areas, awareness increases among fishermen, ferry and tour boat operators, leisure boaters, farmers and other human residents as to impacts of their activities on coastal habitats, with some pro-actively taking measures to protect marine life. In some regions, orcas and bottlenose dolphins regularly approach, initiate sociable contact, and engage in complex forms of interspecies interaction. Exploring such examples reveals the roots of a continuum of positive cohabitation, ranging from neutral, passive co-existence, to active sometimes mutual collaboration. Cohabitation research combines ecological, biological, and behavioral data as evidence of coastal system thriving, and interviews with human residents to understand relevant perceptions, attitudes, influences, and experiences. In this initial phase of research, we present preliminary comparisons between a relatively thriving area in the Hebrides, Scotland with the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, an area of marine ecological collapse. Inspired by the late Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, who developed eight design principles for common pool resources through numerous cross-comparisons, we plan to uncover practical commonalities of positive cohabitation, allowing for variability in how each area thrives. These results can be applied, taught, promoted, and reinforced, as Ostrom’s have, through education, conservation, and government efforts towards protecting coastal communities. Ostrom’s Law states that “a resource arrangement that works in practice can work in theory”; cohabitation research learns from real relationships, which can guide the rich theoretical work on social & ecological systems, re-thinking the human/nature divide. Conservation efforts, justifiably, tend to focus on negative cohabitation, and yet positive cohabitation as a model to study and replicate is a neglected research area. Models of positive cohabitation inform conservation and wellbeing studies for humans and other species, as the ties that bind involve a unique dependence on mutual thriving.
Oral%Presentation%for:%%Compassionate%Conservation%Conference,%University%of%
British%Columbia,%Vancouver,%BC%2015%
MODELS'OF'MUTUAL'THRIVING'AND'COLLABORATIVE'COHABITATION'
AMONG'HUMAN'AND'NON-HUMAN'COASTAL'SPECIES'INFORM'CONSERVATION,'
EDUCATION,'AND'WELLBEING'
Oriel,%E.1,2%and%Frohoff,%T.%2,3%
1.%Cohabitation%Institute,%Santa%Fe,%NM%87501,%lizzieoriel@gmail.com%
2.%Sonar,%London,%UK.%sonarweare@gmail.com%
3.%TerraMar%Research%&%POD,%Santa%Barbara,%CA%93101,%%
%%%%%toni@wearesonar.org%
%
In%certain%coastal%areas%of%the%world,%humans%and%non-human%coastal%systems%and%
species%including%marine%mammals,%live%within%a%general%trend%of%thriving%and%even%
at%times,%mutually%collaborative%cohabitation.%%In%these%areas,%awareness%increases%
among%fishermen,%ferry%and%tour%boat%operators,%leisure%boaters,%farmers%and%other%
human%residents%as%to%impacts%of%their%activities%on%coastal%habitats,%with%some%pro-
actively%taking%measures%to%protect%marine%life.%In%some%regions,%orcas%and%
bottlenose%dolphins%regularly%approach,%initiate%sociable%contact,%and%engage%in%
complex%forms%of%interspecies%interaction.%Exploring%such%examples%reveals%the%
roots%of%a%continuum%of%positive%cohabitation,%ranging%from%neutral,%passive%co-
existence,%to%active%sometimes%mutual%collaboration.%Cohabitation%research%
combines%ecological,%biological,%and%behavioral%data%as%evidence%of%coastal%system%
thriving,%and%interviews%with%human%residents%to%understand%relevant%perceptions,%
attitudes,%influences,%and%experiences.%In%this%initial%phase%of%research,%we%present%
preliminary%comparisons%between%a%relatively%thriving%area%in%the%Hebrides,%
Scotland%with%the%Indian%River%Lagoon,%Florida,%an%area%of%marine%ecological%
collapse.%%Inspired%by%the%late%Nobel%Laureate%Elinor%Ostrom,%who%developed%eight%
design%principles%for%common%pool%resources%through%numerous%cross-comparisons,%
we%plan%to%uncover%practical%commonalities%of%positive%cohabitation,%allowing%for%
variability%in%how%each%area%thrives.%These%results%can%be%applied,%taught,%promoted,%
and%reinforced,%as%Ostrom’s%have,%through%education,%conservation,%and%government%
efforts%towards%protecting%coastal%communities.%Ostrom’s%Law%states%that%“a%
resource%arrangement%that%works%in%practice%can%work%in%theory”;%cohabitation%
research%learns%from%real%relationships,%which%can%guide%the%rich%theoretical%work%
on%social%&%ecological%systems,%re-thinking%the%human/nature%divide.%Conservation%
efforts,%justifiably,%tend%to%focus%on%negative%cohabitation,%and%yet%positive%
cohabitation%as%a%model%to%study%and%replicate%is%a%neglected%research%area.%%Models%
of%positive%cohabitation%inform%conservation%and%wellbeing%studies%for%humans%and%
other%species,%as%the%ties%that%bind%involve%a%unique%dependence%on%mutual%thriving.%%
%
... Interspecies communication can merge identities, merge sentience, and promote a mutual thriving -or, what we call, a positive cohabitation -for humans and marine mammals (Oriel and Frohoff, 2015). In certain coastal areas of the world, humans and coastal systems and species including marine mammals, live within a general trend of thriving and even at times, mutually collaborative cohabitation. ...
... These thriving scenarios are especially distinctive when counter-poised with failing cohabitation in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, where large numbers of dolphins, manatees, pelicans, fish, and sea grasses die each year, in a so-called "ecological collapse" (Wines, 2013;NOAA, 2013). Human cultures in these small-scales regions of mutual thriving reside within interspecies communities, engaged and generated through biocommunication (Oriel and Frohoff, 2015). These communities of mutual thriving pose models for other coastal communities, and represent an under-researched arena within Human-Animal Studies. ...
... This grail quest to understand what dolphins and other non-humans are feeling, thinking, and communicating develops with more inclusive and holistic paradigms (Safina, 2015). Cognitive ethology, Interspecies Collaborative Research, Interspecies Cohabitation Research (Oriel and Frohoff, 2015), and the breakthroughs along the linguistic/ethological border from scientists who build a common language across species, contribute to an equalizing research paradigm from which we transcend excessively anthropocentric models. ...
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