Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Sun, 7th July

Often I've heard it said that friendly dolphins treat all their visitors on an equal basis, dividing time and attention regardless of appearance. But also they are said to relate to different people in a specific way. As you may have read between the lines in my last reports I have felt increasingly unhappy with Dusty's attention for my waterwing. It is not just the prospect of having to fetch it several hundreds of metres into the ocean. It is even more the denial this entails to her eagerness, my own eagerness to let her have a go and, frankly, the fact that I started this myself.

I wondered if another wing might make a difference. Until now she has only known the one that has been made of fibreglass and epoxy. I have another that is hollow and has a few holes through which the water can flow in and out rapidly, often leaving traces of small air bubbles. This waterwing had the same dimensions, but the leading edge is made of African padouk (because of its suitable, specific weight, 0.95), with on either side screwed on flexible plates of fibreglass originating from old monofins. Apart from appearance there are two major
differences with the first wing: the trailing edges are flexible and,
because they are not attached to each other, they spread out when moved in the opposite direction. For many years I have trusted this to serve some sort of purpose and this was that moment.

Dusty watched the spreading of fins with enchantment and stayed with me all the time, though at one moment there were like fifteen people in the water. Though she behaved less pushy then the last time, it was crystal clear what she wanted. I couldn't help feeling guilty, so I decided to hand it over to someone on the rocks. But even now she saw I did not have the wing anymore, she kept swimming with me.
Was it my character after all? I figured it was either my monofin or she had developed a specific mode of conduct towards me into which she gears mainly. At least this is what humans may do: you meet somebody, select a quality and orient yourself to that.

I left the water. Not only was I chilled; there also was a rude, obtrusive woman who grabbed at Dusty and clutched and pushed herself off me. And Dusty was avoiding her with great subtlety. Getting out I saw a wide grin on Ute's face. I looked back and saw the same woman swimming right behind Dusty, being lead into the floating muck of jellyfish and weeds: three times.

A bit later someone went in with a boogie board. After some playing she managed to get it on her beak and swam it out into the ocean. And that was the last thing the owner saw of it.

I look at her face and I can't help smiling.

Jan Ploeg
Date Posted: 08/07/2002
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