Christian Antonioli and Michael Reveley at the University of Leicester recruited 30 mildly or moderately depressed people via adverts in America and Honduras. They allocated half of them to a two week course of swimming with dolphins in Honduras and the other half to two weeks of snorkelling and having fun in the sea without dolphins. Afterwards they found the participants who swam with dolphins had recovered from their depression significantly more than the control group. Seventy-seven percent of the dolphin group no longer met the threshold for depression on the Hamilton scale compared with 25 per cent in the control group.
The researchers said “The echolocation system, the aesthetic value, and the emotions raised by the interaction with dolphins may explain the mammals‚Äô healing properties”.
The findings support the concept of biophilia – the idea that “human health and wellbeing are strictly dependent on our relationships with the natural environment”. The term was first coined by Erich Fromm but has since been championed by and become associated with E.O. Wilson.
The dolphins weren’t available to comment.
Link to the study published in BMJ
Link to dolphin swimming holidays