Look before you leap… read before you follow….
Many are too hasty to actually know what (or who) they are following before they jump on the proverbial bandwagon. Here’s an example:
I received an invite from a friend in Dubai to participate in a summer program for families that involved interaction with dolphins. Cool eh? Most would think that… but have you ever stopped to think …where do the dolphins come from?
I will never forget my first experience with Dolphins. Actually I’d had a few occasions to see these extraordinary creatures perform at various sea worlds or zoos, but I never really truly appreciated the dolphin until I met them head on, in their natural habitat, while returning home from Catalina Island.
A friend was visiting from Italy and we had arranged a sailing excursion to Catalina so she could see some dolphins. I had met Deborah years earlier and we shared accommodation while attending The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. (An internationally renowned acting school) In the few months that Deborah and I lived and studied together I had learned that she absolutely adored dolphins. She dreamed of swimming with them in Florida and told me that one day she would do so.
At the time I was dating, Stephan, a French Canadian who lived aboard a Cal 27 in Marina Del Rey and we had seen plenty of dolphins on our jaunts around Santa Monica Bay. We ventured out several times a week and I quickly developed a love of the sport. I’m a very high energy (some say hyper) person, but when I’m out sailing, under power of wind and surf; I’m more relaxed than anywhere else. For me, sailing is a natural tranquilizer.
Stephan suggested we sail across to Catalina where we had heard that dolphins were plentiful. My son Jeremy was on summer break and we invited a neighbor, Ron, who convinced us to extend the trip and camp on the island for a few days. (We opted to stay aboard the boat) When Deb landed at LAX, I announced our itinerary. She was ecstatic!
We hung out in Venice Beach a few days for Deb to recover from jet lag then the 5 of us set sail. There wasn’t a lot of wind that day so our progress was slow but steady. We relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine, fresh air and each others company. We made a pact not to start the engine no matter how calm the winds became. We floated and bobbed, sunned and swam, but didn’t get very far that first day.
I’m sure you all know how annoying it can be when a child keeps asking, “When are we going to get there?” Little do they know, you are just as tired and bored and would trade your “I spy with my little eye” turn, for a chance to sit back and have some real fun. With Deb came the question, “When are we going to see dolphins?” I kept re-assuring her that we would see plenty. I scanned the horizon looking for signs of their passing. There was none in sight.
Two days passed. We toured the island by golf cart, (no cars were allowed) snorkeled and swam, ate and drank merrily, then fell exhausted into our bunks each night, letting gentle swells rock us to a deep sleep. The only thing missing was the dolphins. In the three days since we had left Marina Del Rey we hadn’t seen a single dolphin. We decided to set sail around to the back side of the island hoping to catch a glimpse of one.
We saw none! At this point Deborah was pretty disappointed and I had run out of both excuses and explanations. Where had they all gone? It was unbelievable that we hadn’t spotted a single dolphin especially since we were in the heart of their territory. It was time to head back and I tried to be optimistic we’d see one on the return trip to the mainland. Deborah was miserable and skeptical.
The journey back was completely different from the one over. The five of us were sullen and moody for many reasons. First of all we felt badly that Deborah had come all the way from Italy without spotting the marvelous creatures but also we were sad to be ending our adventure. I saw staring out across the expanse of ocean. A few miles out from us there seemed to be a rough patch of water. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Stephan altered our course and we sailed toward the spot for a closer look.
It was dolphins! Hundreds of them, perhaps thousands, were all swimming in unison and headed straight for us. No wonder we hadn’t spotted any. Every dolphin within Southern California must have been in that pod. It was like they were celebrating a major event or they were returning from a giant dolphin convention. As we got closer I was instantly sure of one thing, we were witnessing a phenomenon that was a rare and a once in a lifetime opportunity. As the pod got closer we got quieter. Not because we were afraid that we’d scare them off but because we were all speechless. I am struggling for adequate words to describe the beauty and power that surrounded us.
They swam right through us and sprang from the water as if to give us a better show. Oddly not one of us reached for a camera. I couldn’t take my eyes off the water. With 4 cameras on-board plus Deborah’s video camera it’s hard to believe that we didn’t get a single shot. When the last of the herd had passed by I looked at my ship mates and could see that I wasn’t the only one that had been moved to tears. We all laughed when we realized that none of us had been able to break away to grab a camera. Who needs a picture? I will never forget that moment. It was spiritual beyond any I had ever experienced.
So…Why am I telling you this story? Because on that day I learned something I will never forget. Dolphins are highly intelligent and have an energy source that transcends mankind’s understanding. I was recently reminded of that fact when viewing a documentary called The Cove. Please visit the site and spread the word. The murder of these remarkable mammals must stop! The Oscar award-winning documentary not only tells of the senseless massacre of thousands of dolphins but the conspiracy of the Japanese government to conceal the truth.
Which brings me around to my point in writing this. The Facebook invitation to a summer program to play with dolphins. You can’t understand how damaging it is for dolphins to be held in captivity (suicidal in some cases) unless you see the film. I never really stopped to think about how they were captured or where the aquariums bought them from… until now. I’ve been guilty of contributing to their demise without even knowing it.
Just as my friend in Dubai was when she invited me to participate in the summer camp. And sadly as the parents who enrolled their children in what they believe to be a wholesome activity such as swimming with dolphins.
I don’t want to point fingers at Dubai Dolphinarium. There are hundreds of such places around the world. My daughter swam with dolphins a few years ago in Hawaii. I didn’t know then, but I do now. Watch The Cove and see what I mean. If you don’t watch the whole thing, at least view the trailer.