According to a new BBC documentary The Girl Who Talked to Dolphins, neurologist John C. Lilly ran a NASA-funded experiment in the 1960s to teach a 6-year-old bottlenose dolphin, Peter, to speak English.
His assistant was 23-year-old Margaret Howe, who lived on Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands with Peter. They would eat, sleep, and play together in complete isolation.
"Peter liked to be … with me," Howe says in the documentary. Eventually she said she began to have a sexual relationship with Peter, because otherwise he wouldn't pay attention to her lessons.
"He would rub himself up on my knee, or my foot, or my hand, or whatever," Howe revealed. "And I allowed that — I wasn't uncomfortable with that, as long as it wasn't too rough."
"It would just become part of what was going on, like an itch, just get rid of that, scratch it, and we’ll be done and move on.”
When the lab closed after the experiment ended, Peter was shipped back to Miami, where his health quickly deteriorated. His veterinarian, Andy Williamson, said that he died of a broken heart.
Watch the full clip here:
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Honolulu.