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Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Sunday, 12th of May

Dusty is still cruising the shallows where I just left her. Time and again the tip of her dorsal fin is crafting a graphically articulate V, followed by the rounded off upsweeps of her fluke.
This, not very sunny, Sunday I was ready for a trust trial with my waterwing at stake. As I felt the mutual nature of this enterprise, I did not want to call, whistle or bang rocks for her attention. There should at least be some initiative on her part.
So I quietly entered the water and started a leisurely swim towards the slipway. I thoroughly enjoyed the smooth glide through the water in my virtual dolphin skin; the velvety golden kelp was waving at me, revealing Martian-like spider crabs moving in majestic slow motion.
Suddenly silver lightning struck: Dusty was in the house! She started shooting by and circling me as if we had to go through all of yesterday's preliminaries again. When I reached out an obviously premature hand she even kept a greater distance. As I had decided to give her less attention in order to evoke more initiative from her I did not turn with her as much as yesterday. When she circled me I often counter circled at my own convenience. She was not as much in sight as yesterday, yet, when I cared to look she was often at my side with her head very close to my left side lower back, where I hurt most after half a lifetime of lifting heavy objects.
When we returned at the Crumlin Dip, I offered her the waterwing. Either she did not understand or she could not believe I would lend her such an important part of my body. But then it dawned on her and gently she balanced the central aperture on her melon and pushed it forward. She did not use it in any functional way, more like a schoolgirl wearing a tiara or, for that matter, a strand of seaweed.
I swam with her, my head off her dorsal fin and she let me keep up with her. After a while I looked down and could not see the seabed anymore.
That is my limit. I advanced and tried to take over the wing, but she turned it the other way. I increased my speed and then she accelerated, but in doing so she lost grip on the wing and it floated over her head so I took it. In retrospect I am surprised that she took it so clumsily. Several years ago I have done experiments in the Dolphinarium of Harderwijk in Holland, letting dolphins swim with several variations of the waterwings, to give them toys to while away the winter months. These dolphins invariably balanced the wings on the tip of the slightly protruding lower jaw and they where masters at this, chasing and trying to nick it from each other. Maybe this is only the beginning of a learning process for Dusty and I certainly want to go on with this. Even might cut one out especially made to her measure.
A little later I made for the shore and we ended up cuddling in the shallows. Again she pushed her beak against my foot, but then, quite demandingly started pushing against the waterwing, which I had in one hand, together with the monofin. Both of them are yellowish, but she was very sure on what she wanted.
I was chilled to the bone, so I got out. During the time I put down these notes she has continuously made oval tracks, emerging for breath as close as she can get to me, being on the nearest rock. Only when I turned for one last look at the stonewall she had disappeared in the Atlantic ripple.

“I'd love to ask her when she is free to have some tea with me,
but I'd better return tomorrow into her cup of sea.”

Jan Ploeg

Date Posted: 12/05/2002
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