Charting interactions between dolphins and people
Irish Dolphins - Interactions between dolphins and people.  Including Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
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Tues, 23rd July

Lynne Kelleher (a journalist) and I reached 'Pollenawatch' and all went smoothly for a change. My Lahinch tide table had read low tide, so we had an easy access via the sandy beach and there were already three people in with the dolphin, so I did not have to go through the disagreeable rituals of banging stones together or even 'fetching' her from the second cove, like I had to twice last week.

Unlike some people who chase, or even try to jump her, I feel best when she comes to me on her own accord. It is touching to see people rapidly changing into swimming gear in expectation of the dolphin and Lynne was ready before I had put on one diving sock. We went into the waves and I was delighted to see Dusty checking out Lynne. In deeper water Dusty has more maneuvering space and also the water is clearer there.

I believe Dusty has decided to cancel the 'loop de loop' because of the risk of miscalculation. In this I followed her in an ever-steeper trajectory to the surface, where finally she jumped over me backwards. Now she turned her back to me, bending me ever more sideways as we go up. I have to adjust the position of my waterwing in line with her body, moving it sideways, which is no problem for me. She is watching very close at every move I make as if she is studying my understanding of the water as I'm studying hers.

Lynne turned out to be an excellent swimmer and therefore an able spectator. In between the graceful turns, the hidden surprises and the invitations into the deep, Dusty surfaces, belly-up, to be caressed. I used to firmly stroke her, but I found she feels the slightest touch and enjoys the intimate tenderness of being treated in a loving way like a woman.

Since the comment on '' that the opening of her jaws may well be an attempt to vocalize I have thrown overboard my last remnant of apprehension. Yesterday she came towards me, slamming her jaws shut thrice, but I happily stroked her around the beak. I figure slipping my hand in her mouth would be a gesture of trust that she would appreciate, rather than sink her teeth in.

Lynne seemed to be quite enchanted with her dolphin experience and she had a double exposure from the rocks when later I re-entered the water with the photographer James. It was a bit like double-backing in which my goal had slightly shifted to James begetting a pretty picture. I asked him to send the good ones to '' and he consented.

If you check out the Irish Sunday papers this weekend (July 28th, '02) you may well have a dolphin encounter of the printed kind!

Jan Ploeg

Date Posted: 23/07/2002
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