Five years ago, I “swam” with trained, bottle nosed dolphins in a water park in Puerto Vallarta. The experience was controlled and rehearsed (for the dolphins) but very magical. Me– along with forty other people in life jackets, clung to the edge of a very deep, outdoor swimming pool. The thrill of resting belly to belly on a dolphin, holding their pectoral fins while they raced across an olympic sized pool has stayed with me ever since. The powerful tail that propelled me felt like a flying horse. I left the pool and experience with a deep desire to connect more with wild dolphins and curiosity of how they would react to me in their presence. I’ve wished to swim with wild dolphins ever since.
This Tuesday- April 2, 2012, the azure blue water on Maui’s Kihei side was particularly clear and calm. The sun lit up the green and grey spirals of coral at the ocean floor. The temperature was a comfortable 80 degrees. My partner and I rented a kayak for the day to search for dolphins. We were hopeful that we might swim in their company. My partner had an amazing bodywork session to prepare for our trip with a local bodyworker on Whidbey who specializes in a sound-massage treatment to connect with whales/dolphins (http://www.whidbeysoundmassage.com/bio.html) before our trip. It was an auspicious, synchronistic connection for her. A couple years ago on these shores, a pair of dolphins surfaced and swam up to us within a few feet of our kayak on Maui, almost close enough to touch. We hoped we might find them again and this time jump in the water to swim with them.
We paddled a few hundred yards from the beach and headed south toward Wailea area. Hotels and expensive condos line the beaches there. I was making an important phone call from our kayak while we were out on the water. We both joked that if we saw dolphins during my call, I’d have to say, “Dolphins!” and then hang up.
Believe it or not, immediately after I hung up from my call, we noticed some movement ahead in the south direction of the water. We saw a man standing on a paddle board with over two dozen black fins bobbing up and down in the water. The surface looked like a page covered with one-sided parentheses. The arced lines stayed on the surface and occasionally dipped under.
Dolphins! Less than a hundred yards away and headed right for us!
Before either of us could think, my partner announced, “I’m going in!” and hopped off the boat.
“Wait,” I shouted, ”You’ll need fins and snorkel to keep up with them,” as I handed her the fins and mask.
She put them on and took off to meet the pod of dolphins, which were headed right for her. As the dolphins approached, they parted in two halves as they intersected with her, leaving about two arms lengths between her and them. Her blue snorkel soon was surrounded by grey/black dorsal fins on all sides. She swam in the middle of the group, with the pod of dolphins flanked on each side. I paddled alongside of the group and sometimes in the middle of the pod. We were a spontaneous and synchronous parade of humans with dolphins. The tall man on his stand-up board joined us, paddling like a river man with his long ore. The dolphins stayed near the surface at a steady, relaxed pace. Our entry in their slow promenade did not seem to alarm them. Calves, half the size of the adults (pretty close to human weight and length), swam within inches of an adult and stayed often about six feet under the surface. I felt an invisible bond between them, just a nudge away. Sometimes an adult would flip over on their back, revealing a pale stomach and a white bottomed fluke. The sensation of swimming on its back felt whimsical to me. I felt my own humanity stirring at this cousin of the water, wishing I could grow a tail and bigger lungs to stay longer under the surface in their world.
After five or ten minutes, the pod gained a little distance on us, and my partner couldn’t keep up the pace and climbed aboard the kayak. We paddled for another ten minutes to position ourselves in a good place for me to join the pod. Fortunately, the pod stayed close to the surface and the water was so clear we could see them even when they dove thirty feet below. With snorkel and fins, I slipped off the kayak and joined the parade, which had grown a bit larger from another man in a kayak who tagged along with us. He had a huge camera tied onto his boat with a lens the size of a spotlight. He, too jumped off his kayak and dove underwater with this camera to join the dolphins. A few minutes later, an older couple from Canada joined our entourage and also took turns swimming and paddling along side the dolphins.
While I was swimming in the water, I heard a few people cheering and clapping. I surfaced to hear, “One of them jumped in the air and spun around a few times!” We weren’t sure if they were spinner or bottle nosed dolphins, but in a few minutes we saw a tour boat headed our way. As if God answered our question, we heard a male voice over a loudspeaker announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, these are spinner dolphins…”
(Continued in next post…)
©Annie Thoe, www.sensingvitality.com 2012 words on Feldenkrais, Nature and Healing
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