Continued from Part 1….April 2, 2012
This was the day I dreamed of. Years ago, as a massage instructor in 1994, some visionary part of me blurted out at a staff meeting, “Someday we are going to be massaging dolphins!” I found out years later one of my colleagues at the meeting eventually did that! Ever since that day, I’ve paid more attention to vowed and unavowed dreams. Now, my mermaid dream to swim with these creatures in the wild had come true.
I’ve since learned that spinner dolphins feed at night and rest in larger groups (up to 200) during the day closer to shore. Dolphins and whales sleep in an unusual way. Half of their brain shuts down while the half stays awake. (I wonder if humans have this experience, or maybe it’s a middle age, menopause phenomenon!) Spinner dolphins tend to stay in larger groups when they are resting to guard one another, compared to bottle nosed dolphins. They release heat from their dorsal fin to adjust their temperature. They are similar size to humans (up to 7 feet) and weight (200 lbs) and have a slightly shorter life span (60 years). Dolphins are a distant relative to horses and their close cousin, the whales, remind me of elephants in their song and connection to raising their young. (More to come regarding elephants.) Whale songs can last well over an hour, and apparently dolphins can imitate whale songs!
I had long several rounds of swimming with the pod of dolphins. Each time, I was so excited I had to calm myself. With my fins and snorkel, I could keep up with their pace and observe fine details: many were in pairs or threes. Several calves stayed close with mothers, almost in contact. One adult had a white star on its body, a scar that looked like a tattoo. On several occasions, I watched an adult stroke another’s belly (or perhaps some particular area…) with the edge of its fluke in an affectionate way. I had the luxury of counting and recounting the entire pod of 27. I’ve also learned that dolphins have excellent vision above and below the water with a horseshoe-shaped iris that allows them to focus with convergence with one eye, and sleep with the other eye closed. They must be incredible and effective hunters. Perhaps this is why they probably have so much time to play.
For over two hours, we swam and paddled with the dolphins until there was a larger crowd of human paddlers congregating toward us to experience the pod. By the end of this time period, we both had gotten so tired from swimming and keeping up with them we could barely climb onto the kayak to switch roles.
We felt also we needed to leave at that point to reduce the crowd-control and give the pod some space. We’d traveled almost four miles along the shore, sometimes circling with the dolphins in one area. When we paddled back to the beach, there was further synchronicity as we met up with the professional photographer, John and Canadian couple, Geordie and Angie, who also decided to turn back at the same time and had the same put-in!
We talked about our shared joy of the experience and the beauty of these animals. The experience was also potent for my partner who had spread her mother’s ashes in these Kihei waters a last fall. We both felt her mother’s presence on this trip. Her mother (and mine too) would have loved to swim in the company of these gorgeous animals. Her spirit was there with them and these waters. It’s a great comfort to feel that presence. I’m sure her mother was there with the dolphins.
There is no doubt for me how brilliant these dolphins are. There is a reason they have been recognized for their healing, joyful presence for humans. Their fluidity and grace opens my heart and connects me with the ocean of life, waiting under the surface of what is unknown. I heard their songs and whistles. I still do. My mind doesn’t know the words, but my heart sure does.
So many poets refer to the heart as an ocean. The dolphin is our escort to that playground. May our hearts be open to the message of this beautiful being.
With aloha and dolphin blessings,
(Thanks to Geordie and Angie for sending me the link of Maui Don Dolphin Dude’s website: www.dolphindude.com/ who took the photo of us from the shore! So much synchronicity! And Aloha and Many Thanks and Blessings to these sweet dolphins for letting us experience their community and songs for a few hours. Please let me know if you have more photos or stories on dolphin encounters to share!)
©Annie Thoe, www.sensingvitality.com 2012 words on Feldenkrais and Nature
Annie recommends a good book by Madeline L’Engle for teens about healing grief with dolphins is http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&keywords=Dolphin%20Chronicles&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3ADolphin%20Chronicles%2Cp_lbr_one_browse-bin%3AMadeleine%20L’Engle&page=1