This is part 2 of 3
In the latter decades of the 23rd century, cetacean culture across the oceans of Earth was moribund.
Little attempt was made by both humans and their water-dwelling cousins to attempt to bridge the societal gap between them. The larger intelligent species of whale, always slow to adjust to new circumstances, focused on philosophy and pondering awareness. The smaller species of cetacean such as dolphins of all kinds focused on enjoying life now that both they and humans understood each other.
The ravages of the past faded from cetacean memory, their shorter lifespans and lack of written language binding them into societies that passed knowledge through song.
Even with the presence of the Xindi-Aquatics, cetaceans felt little need to form a polity of their own, nor change the way they saw history or time. This changed in 2286 with the arrival of what the cetaceans would name ‘The Great Visitor’.
The Great Visitor sang a song that had long faded from the memory of all cetaceans and only remained in the electronic minds that the humans kept records in.
The song of the long-dead humpback whale once again echoed through the waters of Earth, and the Great Visitor found no one that could sing back. At the same time, humans were trying to communicate with the Great Visitor, cetaceans cried out, singing about hope and peace. They did receive a response from the Great Visitor in their own languages of ‘Extinction cannot be forgiven nor undone.’
Only artificial humpback whale song continued to be heard along with the boiling of the oceans. As cetaceans across the planet thrashed with the mourning of their own world being destroyed in a fit of rage, extinction was undone. Humpback song filled the seas near San Francisco for the first time in centuries. The Great Visitor listened and cried out in shame for what it had done.
Translations of the communication between the Great Visitor and the time-traveling humpback whales were not recorded, and the brief conversations it had with many Saga Singers, Sky Dreamers, and cetacean historians have never been shared with humanoids.
As the Great Visitor left, cetaceans were a changed people. At first, it was the pods of bottlenose dolphins near San Francisco that approached Starfleet and asked to be a part of the greater human endeavor of reaching out into the universe. Then pods from across the planet began approaching delegations of United Earth and asking to take part. But bottlenose dolphins were only the first of over a dozen species of sentient cetacean that asked to be represented in the parliament of United Earth, to have equal access to learning and technology, and to join Starfleet.
The encounter with the Great Visitor seemed to catalyze cetaceans to see the universe as a much larger place, one in which they already had a small part, but their place could be much bigger. Their lack of arms, legs, and opposable digits was the only thing keeping them back from achieving as much as the other species of the Federation.
Access to medical technology allowed many species to increase their lifespan to near-human standards, and even begin designing cybernetic limbs that could allow them to operate humanoid designed equipment.