This is part 1 of 3
Cetaceans had a long history of interactions with humankind on Earth ranging as far back as humans had taken to the seas, but these interactions were limited to a handful of species that shared ecosystems with humans, and those that weren’t hunted for food by humankind.
Some species of cetaceans such as the bottlenose dolphin (tursiops truncates), the beluga whale (delphinapterus leucas), and the orca (orcinus orca) had long determined that mankind was self-aware, but to an extent that they could not determine as they could not communicate with the cetaceans.
As humankind developed technology and began sailing the seas in larger vessels and hunting larger cetaceans, those same species came to the conclusion that humans were dangerous animals that they still cared for (and helped out of difficult situations while at sea) but would attempt to steer clear of in numbers.
The 20th century saw incredible change in the relationship between cetaceans and hominids. The rapid pace of technological development as well as the industrialization of hunting large cetaceans caused confusion amongst the pods that would interact with humans in the intertidal zones. Some cetaceans understood that humans impact on their environment was killing them, and many understood the great songs of the humpback (megaptera novaenglieae) were going silent…but there was nothing they could do. Some pods attempt to understand humans more and were captured for entertainment or use by the military, some pods tried helping humanity even more at sea. All of these attempts at communication would go unanswered.
The Eugenics War of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, along with World War Three would cause the greatest damage to the cetaceans seen yet. While hunting of whales had begun to slow, it had already caused the near extinction of many of the species. The nuclear exchange and resulting nuclear winter pushed many species to the brink of extinction including humanity. The humpback whale finally succumbed to extinction along with the Amazonian river dolphins and many others.
The historian Saga Singers of the bottlenose dolphins saw that an ‘unwaking slumber’ would envelop them all and humans had caused the suffering. The predicted slumber would not come to pass as humanity post-First Contact began repairing the ecological damage that it had done. Almost all remaining cetacean species saw that humanity was making more attempts at peaceful interactions with them, trying to learn from them. Species sang to each other in an attempt at coordinating their communications, hoping that humanity would learn to listen, to sing with them instead of singing against them.
It was the invention of the universal translator in the mid-22nd century that changed everything, but not overnight.
Humanity already understood the damage it had caused its planet during its long industrialization, but they couldn’t know that many cetacean species were intelligent and willing to still talk to them. Few worlds had multiple intelligent species to arise on it, but Earth had a dozen. The difficulty still lay in that the cetaceans were never technological and had little ability (or desire) to become so.
Dialogue exploded across the planet, and while cetaceans and humans had much to say to each other, their far different worlds meant that humans and cetaceans had little in common for their dreams of the future. Humanity looked outwards to the stars, and cetaceans looked inwards at the waters of their birth.
This state of affairs would remain true until the arrival of the Great Visitor in 2286.