Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Wednesday, 26th June

It seems like the waves are getting a little bit higher everyday, but this may have something to do with the tide. My launching, with the waterwing (man-made dolphin pectoral fins) in my outstretched hands, is improving. My draught is minimal and so is the chance to bang a knee, or worse, into a rock. I can see where I am right away and also the momentum of the push off takes me fast to a safe distance from the rocks.

Off I went from Pollenawatch (3rd dolphin swimming spot) towards the second cove. From afar I could discern Ute's (German woman who swims with Dusty regularly) blue swimming cap. When I came closer I saw Dusty's tilted body with her mouth very close to Ute's.

The cove was an 'island', consisting of three cubic metres of transparent jelly-fish, interwoven with floating rope-weed. I got caught up in it a few times and did not like it one bit. So I went out a little further. Dusty was around me continually and hung out just above the seabed. A loud boy came into the water, who tried a few times to push me aside to get to Dusty. It was almost funny to see the subtlety with which she avoided him. Another person came into the water, Ute's friend Susanne.

I don't know why Dusty came to me so many times. She seemed not interested in the waterwing, but with this wing and monofin I am faster and more maneuverable than other swimmers. It became almost embarrassing the way she kept to me, even when I tried to divert her attention to Ute or Susanne. Then she showed her teeth a few times. This she has not done to me before. Right after that she started pushing against the wing. That was what I did not like very much as it would take her even farther away from the others.
I decided: 'Only this once'.
I could have sworn she'd watched the World Cup Football: she 'accepted' the wing, 'killed it', pushed forward a few times, measuring with small movements of the head, as if 'dribbling' and then took it vertically on the tip of her beak, slightly to the right and there she went. I estimated her compensation-pressure arc and was almost correct in where she emerged.

She almost immediately wanted to have another go. I pushed her away resolutely, but this time that did not help. Again she showed her teeth so I just turned away from her. Then she behaved again.

Meanwhile I was not feeling to well in the high waves and was in two minds: if I would leave there'd be a fat chance she'd go with me and that would not be too nice for the girls. Also, I would need all hands on deck against the mighty waves and would not be too charmed by the escort of a dolphin who was mostly interested in my waterwing.
So first I hung out with Ute and Susanne, hoping she would stick with them. Then I quietly left, but I should have known better, you just don't fool a dolphin. I had swum less than 50 metres when she shot by very fast, coming from either left or right behind me and very close under me.

I got to feel very uneasy and decided to return to the second cove.
As I had been there before with Keith, I knew the approach to land and this was not a great problem.
Shortly after Susanne left the water. She advised me to walk back along the shore. She knew that with this wind and high tide there could be very strong currents at Pollenawatch and that people had been sucked into caves under the land.

Could Dusty have wanted to warn me for this? Just go in there and see what you think!

Jan Ploeg
Email Jan at:

Date Posted: 26/06/2002
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