Dolphincraft is one of the more recently established autonymous crafts on Pern. Major crafthall is located in Rubicon River Hold.


A detailed description of the Craft on the basis of the The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern

«Nature's born humorists», Captain James Tillek called the twenty-five blue and bottle-nosed dolphins who came with humans to Pern in special cryogenic tanks aboard the Bahrain. All the dolphins had been volunteers, eager to leave the badly polluted waters of Earth for the clean seas of a new world. Like the human settlers, each dolphin had to be given a clean genetic bill of health so that though their gene pool was small, future generations would have the best possible chance of avoiding birth defects and certain kinds of illness.

Like the dragons later developed by Kitti Ping Yung, the dolphins had been mentasynth-enhanced, the effects of which are transmitted genetically. They were good candidates, being naturally intelligent, curious, resilient, and empathetic.

The senior dolphin, a blue, was named Theresa, and her pod included Kibby, Amadeus, Aphrodite, China, Captiva, Sandman, Oregon, Cass, Olga, Pha, Aleta, Tory, Maximillian, and a dozen others. There had been ten males and fifteen females on the colony vessel, but by the eighth year they had multiplied until there were hundreds in the seas of Penn The pods, ranged geographically, operated autonomously. They consisted of extended family units with one senior female dolphin at its head. As their numbers began to increase, seventy dolphins remained in Theres's pod near Monaco Bay, and Cass moved a subsidiary pod eastward toward Young Mountain. All adults protected the calves, helping to birth them and teach them how to survive. The pods established friendly competitions among themselves to help keep them sharp.


Negotiations that had begun on Earth on the Dolphin Contract were finalized on Pern. Dolphins were free to explore the seas, but they owed several duties to the human beings who had brought them on the fifteen-year journey. Dolphins must answer the call of the sea-bell situated at Monaco Bay. They must guard human beings on or near the water, to the best of their abilities, even to the cost of their own lives. They must assist in all sea rescues of humans. They must inform humans of oncoming weather conditions, and warn them of sea hazards, including the presence of dangerous sea creatures. Dolphins must aid humans with their abilities to detect earthquakes and track tsunami waves. When asked, they were also to spot school of food fish and inform fishing boots where they were to he found. Fortunately, work for humans was play to them. In an honorary capacity, dolphins also escorted the bodies of the human dead, buried at sea, to their final resting place.

In exchange, humans agreed to teach and talk to any dolphin, to rescue any who were in distress, to restore to the sea any that accidentally beached themselves, to cure sickness and mend wounds, and to remove all bloodfish that attached themselves to dolphin flesh.

The first dolphineers, or marine rangers, had been trained on Earth with their respective dolphin partners. Jan Regan was the senior dolphineer; her companion Theresa was considered the head dolphin of all the pods. Not every dolphineer had a permanent partner from the dolphin pods, but most dolphins who paired with a human chose to work exclusively with that person. Among the first dolphin/human pairs in the rescue teams were Theo Force and Dart, Ben Byrne and Amadeus, Claire Byrne and Tori, Efram Zarkius and Kibby, Gunnar Schultz and Pha. and Toby Duff and Oregon. Other dolphineers, such as Gus, Bernard Shattuck, and Ann Gabri, worked closely with the pods but not necessarily with a specific dolphin.

The experienced rescue teams took apprentices and trained them at the beautiful, deep harbor off Monaco Wharf, center of marine activities for Landing. In order to be a dolphineer, a student needed to be able to swim well and be at home in the water. A high empathy factor helped in cooperating with the dolphins, as did a reverence for sea life-forms and the biosphere.

The apprentices went through full lifeguard training, CPR and other life-saving techniques, basic paramedic skills, and SCUBA training. For shallow rescues, the dolphineer might need no more gear than a shortie suit, a mask, fins, and a dive knife; she or he had to know how to wear, repair, and use the whole kit. For deeper dives, they required SCUBA apparatus. Rescues from the hulks of foundered ships couldn't he undertaken by a dolphin alone. They lack hands to pull aside wreckage and open hatches. But dolphins could convey wounded humans or vital cargo to the surface, and buoy them up tirelessly until they could get their charges to shore or a ship came to their aid. Together, a dolphin and a diver with an air tank proved to be an unbeatable team.

Dolphineers needed a working knowledge of meteorology, so they could learn by rote what dolphins knesv by instinct. Seamanship and care of boats were also in their curriculum. They had to learn the hand signals and bell signals, in order to communicate with dolphins at a distance and under water.

After an apprentice had been in the teams for a while, s/he might strike up a friendship with a particular dolphin, but the choice, like the Impression of a dragon, was always the dolphin's.


Dolphins had several ways of communicating among themselves or with humans. They are a talkative species normally, venting their natural enthusiasm in a range of sophisticated high-pitched and supersonic noises. Their spoken language was readily learned by humans (Commander Zi Ongola had been a student of dolphin speech on Earth, but was too claustrophobic to tolerate being under water or in a diving suit.) They sang their own songs about their history, fish, people they had met, daring deeds, games, humans they had rescued and ships they had escorted, or anything else that caught their interest. Like the harper tradition, dolphin song was meant to entertain as w ell as inform.

Dolphins use a natural form of long-distance communication between themselves called «sounding». They are able to send complex massage by undersea sound waves. In such a manner, a dolphin off the coast of the Southern Continent can receive word within minutes from another off the coast of Tillek Head by sounding to the next pod hundreds of dragonlengths distant. That pod will repeat the sounding until it reaches its destination, and pick up the reply when it arrives. Sounding is a most efficient way tor a dolphin to communicate with entire posts at once.

Though their palates and tongues were not identical to those of land mammals, they had adequate faculties to adapt for human speech. In fact, empathy enhancement done on dragonets was inspired by the good experience that human scientists had had front similar work on dolphins, using the advanced biogenctic techniques invented by the Beltrae of Eridani.

Once mentasynth had been introduced ind altered the dolphins’ genetic makeup, they were capable of learning, understanding, and using the human speech. Mentasynth also enhanced their memories. For the first time dolphins understood the concept of history and tone, and had a coherent way of recalling events.

They also acquired names. Before dolphin intelligence was enhanced, they did recognize words as recurring patterns of sound which they came to associate with instructions or commands, a specific object, or one of them. After mentasynth, dolphins adopted the names they had been given, and formed a tradition of passing them on to their offspring. The name «Tillek», for Captain Jim Tillek, came to mean leader of all dolphins. The source of the has been handed down in their verbal tradition.

A large bell was erected atop a six-by-six pylon at the end of the pier in Monaco Bay for use by dolphins to summon humans to hear their reports, or for humans in need to call the pods. A floating platform tethered beside it was for mariners to use in speaking with dolphins. Both species were instructed in the sequences and signals for report, emergency, and the red alert recall sequence that summoned all dolphins within range to the site.

The dolphins established a rite of passage in which young dolphins attempted to swim the Great Subsidence, an undersea feature in the arctic waters to the northwest of High Reaches Head. Challenging, exhilarating, and dangerous, the ritual had never been witnessed by any human. It took place around Turnover, when the pods gathered to exchange news. First the Name Song was sung in us entirety, honoring the dolphins who had made the Great Crossing to Pern. Then the young dolphins had to swim many kilometers across a vicious undertow without letting it yank them down into the swirling depths and away from lifegiving air. It required strength, timing and daring. Not every one who tried it survived.


When the explosion of the volcano Mount Garben above Landing became imminent, a planned evacuation was set into motion to move all its population and goods northward, eventually to Fort Hold. There were too few sleds and shuttles left to transport everything and everyone quickly. The administration at Landing, aided by storesmaster Joel Liliencamp and his assistant Desi Artheid, oversaw the evacuation, but it was run by the shipmasters, because most of the transshipment was to be accomplished by sea.

Every one of the siltplex vessels that could haul cargo was pressed into service. The flotilla, led by Captain James Tillek in his forty-foot sloop Southern Cross. was intended to take goods from Landing via Monaco Bay, around Kahrain Head, where it was believed it would be temporarily safe from the volcanic ashfall. The larger ships would go as far as Paradise River Hold.

Gale-force winds following the catastrophic eruption caused many of the boats to founder. Much of the cargo was blown off ships into the water. Dolphins rounded it up and helped move most of the urgently needed and delicate red- and orange-tagged containers safely to their destination. It was the last major undertaking for humans and dolphins working together tor many centuries to come.

Although humans failed to maintain contact with the dolphins after the migration to the north and a subsequent plague, the sea mammals kept their side of the Dolphin Contract, accompanying ships, and saving drowning humans. It came to be considered lucky for «shipfish» to swim beside a fishing vessel. The dolphins push their hard triangular dorsal fins into the hands of shipwrecked people and drag them as close to shore as they can without beaching themselves. Men who fail overboard from fishing vessels are often lifted up by dolphins who swim under their bellies or between their legs.

The passage of time separated the Pernese from the origins of the practice of dolphin rescue. Though the shipfish tried to speak with men, humans believed that any resemblance the sounds bore to human speech was accidental, an illusion or, at worst, a hallucination. For their part, dolphins missed interaction with the sea captains and manners at the ports.

Dolphin society continued to prosper. Though each pod was autonomous, the traditions and the naming song were taught to each new generation by the Tillek, the traditional leader of all dolphins. Usually the senior female, the Tillek maintains the standard of spoken human language and sees that the young are taught their history and responsibilities.

The Tillek also comes down firmly upon dolphins who use disrespectful terms for humans «Long-foot» or «finless» have always been considered rude language.


By the time interest in communication with dolphins was resumed in the Ninth Pass, humans' speech had suffered linguistic slippage, but the dolphins' speech pattern was still that of the fine settlers. Humans believed that the smiling, finned creatures called themselves «doll-fins», a pronunciation that was speedily corrected once humans started listening properly once again. Charts of hand signals and a lexicon of human words used by dolphins were provided by Aivas. People began interacting more closely with dolphins, getting reports of schools of fish and using pod intelligence to avoid undersea hazards. Hauls of fish increased two- to fivefold where the dolphins' advice was taken, and accidents at sea decreased. There were several dolphin halls, but no official Dolphincrafthall, and no Dolphineer.

The Tillek herself, Theresa, brought Readis out into the Great Western Current and swam him to where Master Idarolan's ship Dawn Sisters was waiting. In the presence of Masterfisheman Idarolan, the Benden Weyr-leaders, and Lord Holder Oterel of Tillek Hold, Theresa turned Readis the Dolphineer. He established the new Hall at Rubicon, to coordinate among dolphineers already at work in Eastern Weyr, Monaco Bay, Paradise River Sea Hold, Southern Hold, Ista (Cetus Hall). Tillek, Fort Sea Hold, and Nerat Bay, among others. Theresa herself would instruct him in dolphin history, tradition, and knowledge as part of his duties as a Craftmaster; he, in turn, would teach others who came to him.

Thanks to the technology revived by Aivas so that the dragonriders could breathe in the void of space, compressed air was available for the resumption of SCUBA diving. Face masks, with their flexible straps and sealed glass eye plates, were the biggest snag. Master Hamian worked on the puzzle of what plastic would work until he found the correct formula. Another link with the colony's past was reforged.


With the exception of one Ancient Timer dolphin, Maximillian, who went on record saying he thought that it lacked substance, dolphins love to cat the Thread that drowns in the sea. They are largely immune to the devastation of Threadfall, since they can submerge for up to fifteen minutes on a single breath of air, long enough for Threadfall to pass over an area. If Thread lands on a dolphin's back, he dives, and the strand drowns.

Dolphins tend to heal quickly, due to the effect of salt water and their own speedy metabolisms, but as in the treatment of humans, the use of numbweed helps speed the cure.

It is possible for dolphins to sustain grievous wounds, during storms or ship rescues, or attacks by native Pernese sea creatures. Surgical repair is difficult because dolphins arc slippery and have tough skins, but they are good patients, who are intelligent enough to follow orders for their care. Beyond surgical intervention and antibiotic injections, dolphins need relatively little help from humans.

The most prevalent threat to their health is the bloodfish, a native Pernese parasite. It attaches itself to any open wound with a suction-cuplike mouth. Through it, a sucker penetrates scratches and wounds and burrows deep into the host's flesh. Although the puncture itself is very small, it goes deep enough to endanger internal organs. It is occasionally necessary to make a larger incision to remove the whole sucker. Part of the Dolphin Contract agreed to on Pern requires dolphineers to remove bloodfish from dolphins. The most common procedure when the parasite has fastened onto a human involves touching a burning ember to the bloodfish's head. However, it is less injurious to the dolphin to scrape the parasite off with a sharp-bladed knife. More skillful healers can cut off the bloodhsh's head and extract the sucker, thereby keeping intrusive surgery to a minimum.

In return, dolphins assist in healing humans (see New Healercraft).

Positions and responsibilities

  • Dolphineers — the general name of specialists.


First Pass / First Interval

It is where the Dolphins were awaken in Monaco Bay from the long trip to Pern Long Sleep, They didn't understand that time had passed. The first Dolphineer Hall was at what was later called Monaco Bay Stake, and many other stakes that had fishing until the move North to Fort Hold, see Second Crossing

They are a very importation, glad to leave 'sick ocean world', and come to Pern. They were grateful for the Words for History, the removed of bloodfish

First Interval / Second Pass

None but Richud the Lord Holder of Ista is said to understand them, Azury the Southern Boll Lord Holder says that his fisherman always look out for them.

Eighth Interval

None but they are known as «Shipfish». Gostol watches them, and just say they are making sound out their blow holes.

Ninth Pass

Refounded during the by Readis son of Holder Jayge. Readis and Alemi were saved by «Shipfish» when fishing and this starts his fascination with dolphins. He was also warned of a poisonous sea thorn in his foot by a dolphin.

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