Storytellers – Dolphin Adventures

Our ‘storyteller’ for the evening was Olivia de Bergerac. Olivia who has been a BBC member for 10 years shared some of her life adventures with dolphins, and told us a little about her books and her TV documentaries.

Olivia de Bergerac was born in France and grew up on the French Riviera (Antibes). The ocean has always played a part in her life with a Cousteau Diver as a big brother. With a PhD in Literature and Psychology and a Master in Business Administration (MBA), she is a Neuroscientist, a Life Coach and was instrumental in developing a sustainable Harbour Management plan for the return of dolphins to Sydney Harbour. Olivia has worked as a Management Consultant and as a Business Coach. She has worked with leading organisations on Total Quality Management, Team Building and Stress Management Programs. Her main clients included: The Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the CPA group, Macquarie Bank and Bonds to name a few. Tres impressive!!
And there’s more … Olivia is often invited to participate to conferences around the world. In the past, she has been invited to conferences in France, Germany, Egypt and Japan….and of course the highlight for her (and us) was to present at the BBC Storytellers!!!

Olivia spoke about her passion for dolphins and the studies she has conducted. She also interspersed her talk with some video footage. The first was of Bob Carr, then NSW Premier, announcing to the World on how Sydney Harbour would be cleaned up in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics. Olivia was very instrumental in talking to the powerbrokers in the State to agree to a “Dolphins in Our Harbour Conference” opened by Bob Carr with 70 participants: politicians, scientists and businesses seeking a strategic vision for an ecologically sustainable harbour management scheme. A wonderful initiative and of course it worked with the BBC members being significant beneficiaries.

The thrust of Olivia’s talk was how dolphins have a calming effect on humans. To be in their vicinity or even to just picturing them in one’s mind can be both therapeutic and beneficial for children with autism, attention deficit disorder, physical disabilities and other psychological disorders. Olivia showed further footage from a documentary to support this theory. It clearly showed how a child who was suffering many epileptic seizures managing to relax and significantly calm down in the presence of dolphins. The child was on a boat watching a pod of dolphins and then just quietly drifted into a deep sleep, totally relaxed.

Olivia elaborated on high cortisol and low DHEA; 1st Brain (low level control; 2nd Brain (mid-level control); 3rd Brain (high level control) and gave examples of each. She then looked for a volunteer from the audience to be hooked up to her computer to demonstrate how a person’s mood or stress can be shown. Sitting in the front row gave Peter MacCormick and with no escape route obliged. It was easy to see how as he started to meditate his stress levels reduced and became closer to the state that dolphins exist.

The audience then shared some of their own experiences with dolphins.
Clive recalled the time a couple of years ago when Dolly the dolphin regularly came to our beach and was very envious of the daily swimmers who had encountered Dolly during their swims. Then after a Saturday swim, shower and breakfast he looked over the Club balcony to see Dolly about 150 m off the beach surrounded by swimmers. He turned to Denise and said “I wish I could swim with the dolphin”. Denise just looked him up and down and said “Well, the dolphin is out there, you’re here, what’s stopping you?” Clive said it was something he’ll never forget as the dolphin left the other swimmers and just played with him for about 10 minutes. It swam so fast he couldn’t really gauge how long it was. A very special experience.

Tim spoke of the time he and Viv took their daughter to Bunbury WA. Standing in the shallows in cold water, about 12 degrees, a baby dolphin swam up to him, did a reconnoitre, pinging audibly as it swam around Tim. It then swam off only to return with its mother. Time forgot about the water temp as he savoured a very unique experience. (Dolphins swim incessantly with opportunity to ping repeatedly at a target from multiple directions and positions. Combined serial pinging and manoeuvrings offers an opportunity to quickly gain information with increased reliability about targets or surrounding).

A few other dolphin moments were mentioned, one being at Monkey Mia WA, where the dolphins are plentiful.

Many thanks to Olivia for entertaining and educating us all. A most enjoyable evening.