Readers may remember last year I wrote about seals -- the marine mammals, not rubber rings or American special forces -- being given text-messaging telephones by scientists. Presumably buoyed up by the success of this scheme, biologists in Ireland are now busy plugging dolphins into the phone system. An array of underwater microphones is planned, feeding a dial-up service where you can tune into the merry creatures when you’re in need of some new-age relaxation. Vodafone and dolphin sanctuary scientists are sorting out minor problems – such as dolphins not making noise people can hear while the sea makes far too much of the stuff – but it’s an excellent idea.
Later that evening, I catch a TV programme where a parrot called Alex is being taught how to browse the Internet through a modified bit of software – to my disappointment, not called Petscape. Clearly, this is a trend: if we can’t stop ourselves wiping out zillions of species, we can at least give the survivors something to do online. It’s a great growth area: there may be six billion humans out there, but there are around 14 million other species to work on once we’ve all got connected. While not everything is capable or interested in using the Internet or the telephone, we can have fun trying. Gibbon-centric Google, anyone, or Dial-A-Platypus?