Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Saturday, 29th June

There was a terrific swell in the second cove, but the visibility was excellent and Dusty was right there. Keith was already in and soon she started a vigorous ballet dance between the two of us. She dances in the water like a feather in the wind, as if there is no resistance whatsoever.

When Keith went for the rocks to shake a touch of 'mal-de-mar', Dusty came to me and made a push at the waterwing (man-made dolphin pectoral fins). I held on to the waterwing, to make it a trifle 'harder to get' and she started pushing me too. I had decided not to 'use' her like that and I let go.

She swam quite slowly before me and surprised me by pushing the wing 'Tiara-wise', her very first and comparatively primitive mode. Then she took it, still very slowly and with the possible intention of showing me, with her beak vertically down. Then she shifted it to under the tip of her beak, tilting her head upwards; which was a new variant.
She circled, came towards me in a depth of approximately 6 metres. She was fondling the wing, bouncing it to and fro, sliding it along her beak from side to side, punching and catching it again while altering her body positions from belly-up to vertically down, slip sliding, seemingly weightless through the wet dimension.

I was holding my breath at the surface. This was her laboratory, this was a display of her logical conduct: the direct relation between every move she made and the water, and the association to complex problems she identified within her brain. 'If I do this, that happens, but thus I can also do that.'
I could not decide whether my mask was leaking or if it were tears coming to my eyes.
Then she let go of the wing and it started to travel upward. I then realised the wing had not seemed to be subjected to buoyancy at all while she was handling it down there.
I went down to meet it, but just before I could take it, she snatched it away as if in revenge for my earlier reluctance. She put the tip of her beak on one of the blades and pushed it in perfect balance. This is a hard thing to do: it is a matter of wedding the right angle to the right position to push. Doing this depends largely on the actual experience, but taking the little personal history she just resumed, I'd say that the decision to do this is an achievement of reflection.

The great thing about dolphins is that, as yet anyway, nothing about them is conclusive. There is always a 'next' time in which they will surprise us all over again.

Jan Ploeg

Date Posted: 29/06/2002
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