Gainesville, FL | A man that was left severely paralyzed after a tragic scuba diving incident in Honduras last June has reawoken from a 6-month-long coma with severe amnesia and talking only in a “dolphin-like” language report doctors.
Michael Phillips, a marine biologist and former researcher at the University of Florida’s Aquatic Animal Health Program, suffered a near-fatal incident caused by an aggressive dolphin with whom Phillips was trying to communicate through recorded acoustic signals.
According to eyewitnesses, the dolphin grabbed Phillips’s diving equipment, leaving him with no air at 60 meters below the surface, which prompted an emergency rescue and where doctors fearing for his life induced him into an artificial coma to prevent further neurological damage.
“He seems to believe he is talking in dolphin language. He keeps emitting whistles, squeaks, and clicks and he strictly refuses to eat anything but sardines,” a family member told reporters.
A personality disorder
Although Phillips’s health condition has greatly improved, Dr. Shawn Becker fears the young man may suffer from a temporary personality disorder induced by post-traumatic stress linked to the near-fatal scuba diving incident.
“He will only eat foods that come from the sea and has bitten several nurses who were trying to feed him anything else,” he told reporters.
At one time, a nurse reported he was found trying to interact through squeaks and clicks with the heart-rate monitor.
“Some nurses have learned to communicate with him through clicks and sounds. Three clicks are for when he is hungry, a high pitched squeak for when he needs a diaper change,” added Dr. Becker.
Several months before Michael Phillips’s tragic accident, Phillips had quit his job as a researcher at the University of Florida to do his own research in Honduras believing he had developed a “groundbreaking software for the decoding of dolphin communication” and was on the edge of a “major scientific breakthrough” according to family and friends.