REFLECTION by Biripi Creator Michael Scarrott
Guparr is the Gathang name for Dolphin.
Over 50 million years of evolution the ancestors of dolphins moved from land into the sea.
Dolphins are found mostly in marine environments but some live in freshwater. They feed predominantly on fish and squid and use echolocation, an inbuilt sonar system that bounces back sound waves revealing their prey’s location, size, and shape. They are apex predators, but can be vulnerable to attack from larger sharks, especially their calves.
Highly social, dolphins are one of the most intelligent creatures on Earth. They live in pods of up to a dozen individuals and like humpbacks, to which they are distantly related, they have complex practices of inter communication, share knowledge with their kin and are altruistic.
They have advanced brain structures and are known to teach, cooperate and grieve. Cultural knowledge is transferred via family lines. The Bottlenose dolphin uses tools to hunt and passes this knowledge on to their kin. In New Zealand the species was observed teaching young to use sponges to protect their snouts when foraging.
There have been numerous reports of Dolphins coming to the rescue in a crisis. They've been observed helping injured kin to breathe by bringing them to the surface, guiding stranded whales to safety, protecting swimmers and even charging predators to protect humans from harm.
Dolphins are to be admired for their intellect, rich cultural and social practices, their playfulness, generosity of spirit and strength of character as demonstrated by their preparedness to step up to defend others in need.
Importantly, the Dolphin is one of the tribal totems of the Worimi people, of the mid north coast NSW, which borders Biripi country. Biripi and Worimi communities are so close they share a common language, Gathang. So as a Biripi man, I recognise the significance of this creature to Worimi and broader Gathang speaking community.