Dolphin becomes first Mexican to get an iPad

Posted by Emma Woollacott

It seems grossly unfair, when there are so many worthy humans yet to get an iPad (sniffs sadly), but the latest recipient is - wait for it - a dolphin.

Yes, at Dolphin Discover in Mexico, a young bottlenose dolphin named Merlin has become a trailblazer for his species - and for Mexican's in general, who aren't set to get their hands on one of the must-have devices until July.

Dolphin research scientist Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin.com, introduced the iPad to the dolphin as a first step towards building a language interface.

"The use of the iPad is part of our continuing search to find a suitable touchscreen technology which the dolphins can activate with the tip of their rostrums or beaks. After extensive searching and product review, it looks like our choice is between the Panasonic Toughbook and the Apple iPad," says Kassewitz.

"We think that once the dolphins get the hang of the touch screen, we can let them choose from a wide assortment of symbols to represent objects, actions and even emotions."

The dolphin, Merlin, is a juvenile, born at the facility only two years ago. He's curious, says Kassewitz, and has shown 'complete willingness' to examine the iPad - well, nobody was expecting him to pay for it.

For the time being, the researchers are getting Merlin used to the touch screen by showing him real objects, such as a ball, cube or plastic duck, then asking the dolphin to touch photos of those same objects on the screen.

"This is an easy task for a dolphin, but it is a necessary building block towards our goal of a complete language interface between humans and dolphins," says Kassewitz.