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Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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7th November, 2003

Fungie swimming season is in full bloom. But the winter weather, that has reduced me to at most three swims over the last couple of weeks, has only invigorated and inspired the regular, winter Fungie swimmers.

Bemoaning the fact the Fungie seems to test swimmers by only leaping, ducking and diving when the weather is at its worse, Julie and I joined the Fungie swimming family on a windy but mild and bright wintry Friday. My theory is that as the boat activity decreases, Fungie is more focused on swimming with mere humans. But as with all theories with dolphins this one will be disproved by the wild animalís irregular and random behavioural patterns.

Enough of the delaying tactics, I had to get out of warm clothes into a flimsy wetsuit and then into the cold, surprised it hasnít iced over, North Atlantic. After a few minutes floating around on our boogie boards, Nick and I begin to wonder if we have been played for suckers by the dolphin.

A tell-tale tip of the dorsal fin, accelerating as though on a skid-pad, is enough to send us into a mild fit of bouncing up and down, hollering to prove who is going to be the most interesting.

Bursting out the water next to us, getting to about five or six feet before slipping back into the water and Fungie is here. I kick vigorously, pushing the board out in front of me. Pulled along in his wake gives me the feeling of speed that sends me into another mild seizure.

Then off to Nick, more leaping and then bobbing out of the water, bowing forward in an attempt to touch Nick on the forehead with his beak, as though in blessing.

Over as quickly as it had begun, leaves Nick and I floating on a swollen sea with an excess of adrenaline. Fungie is back in the channel, probably feeding and seemingly unaffected by our meeting.

Looking back onto the beach I see Suzanne and Julie feeding their babies Georgia and Eli respectively. Fifteen years ago I first swam in this water, with this dolphin, and I would not have imagined that life would have taken the turns and roundabouts that it has.

Pushing prams and carrying nappies, seems far from the spiritual path that the books said we would take, but in many ways closer.

Nick, Suzanne and Georgia, bedecked in her pink bubble-suit and enclosed in her bubble pram, have been swimming with Fungie in weather that you wouldnít put a dog out in. Joined at times by Scandinavian Jenny, and less seldom by a warmth-loving South African and family, they have found focus and direction through intermittent punches of peak-moment adrenalin with the dolphin.

I wait in anticipation of a day when my daughter and son can join me in the water with a solo dolphin seeking out human company, and wonder if that is how life evolves.
Date Posted: 08/11/2003
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