Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Tuesday, 25th June

Only a few white heads on the waves today, but a sneaky, quite incomprehensible swell. High tide too, so I sleighed in on my waterwing (man-made dolphin pectoral fins), which got me safely clear off the rocks. In the water the waves are so much higher: on shore you relate to them by the length of your body, while in the water you do so by the height of your head.

At the second cove Dusty flashed in and out of sight through the misty water. The 'shoot-circle-sneak-cycle' seems to shorten. Soon she came to my right side and laid her beak upon the handle of the waterwing. I gave way by removing my arm and she rolled over laterally until she was belly-up and swam away right before my eyes surprised. That was a very clever variant on what she discovered last Thursday. I wander if she plays chess.

She's really getting the hang of it now, just a few pushes: 'Can I have it?' and off she goes. This time she holds her beak vertically down and pushes the wing with the fold just under her melon. Again it was a practical achievement that she reached by reasoning, not by infinite trial and error. I wonder what's next. I saw trained Dolphinarium dolphins balance the wing on the tip of the lower jaw while swimming fast. How about jumping out of the water with it.

Then again: 'May I have it?' This time she pushed it vertical while she was swimming in normal horizontal position. No accommodating angles this time. I could not see exactly how she pushed it, because she was in between the waterwing and myself, but she swam in the counter pressure curve.

Still she has me swimming far out to fetch the wing. Ute, a German dolphin-swimmer, told me Dusty does this with her flipper, but that she insists on it being returned and that Dusty complies.

It was a bit of a swim, back to Pollenawatch, against the wave walls but I was in excellent company, receiving a sonar massage on my lumbago in the process. Sometimes she swam very close right under me, as if she wanted to help me out by the Bernouilli-effect, drawing me into her wake. I could have kissed her, but we only just met, again.

When we got close to Pollenawatch she came from under my armpit and pushed against the handle of the waterwing. I thought for a moment she wanted to push me in that way, but she just wanted the wing. I was quite exhausted so I pushed her away. That sufficed, no hard feelings. Then we did some nice pectoral fin scratching and a few belly-ups, I took of my monofin, 'No, you don't get that, you have your own', we say the silliest things, swam to the shore, slung fin, wing and myself onto the rocks and a last cuddle for Dusty: 'Nice swim, wasn't it?'

Isn't she the ocean's emotion?

Jan Ploeg (see
Date Posted: 25/06/2002
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