Friday, November 18, 2005

18 Nov - I can't believe how relaxed they were

That was the comment from my mate Gee as we left the water after an exhilarating 35 minute swim with 5 dolphins.....
We had had a couple of short lived dolphin swim bys in Bay 1 when Gee went to check Bay 2. He called to tell me that there were 4 Ds in Bay 2. I drove there but the bay was empty when I arrived. We sat on the sand sheltered from the cool wind and enjoyed the warming rays of the sun. We decided to check Bay 3 on our way back to Bay 1. As we pulled into the carpark we could see about 4 fins diving on a seagrass bank about 400 metres from shore. They appeared settled there so we thought the trip out was warranted. They were doing tail out dives which is a sure sign that they are relaxed. In a normal dive the tail does not break the surface in the relatively shallow waters around here.
We reached them in about 15 mins and a couple of them were catching some small fish which hardly seemed big enough for them to bother with. Perhaps they are especially tasty. It was an unusual gathering in that only one of the five was a juvenile. The other four were fully grown. I was familiar with all of them. I suspect that they are a group of young females who have not had a calf as yet. One of them is a particularly playful D who has a very prominent growth on her "lip". It looks like it was perhaps an ulcer that has healed over. I have always referred to her as Gummy. They were playing a game which I have seen before. There would be a couple of Ds swimming together when another would swoop on them from behind, seemingly startling them. Then the roles would reversed.
One of the signs of relaxed Ds in this area is that they will lie on the surface and lift their head enough to check me out. They started doing this and allowed me to cruise right alongside them on my board. I decided to see if they would let me join in their "chasy" game. I started diving, keeping out of there way. Soon I was being approached from behind and underneath bu one or two Ds. I then started being the "chaser" and the D would dart off when I approached, emitting the squeal that indicates their excitement. Gee was joining in on the other side of the group and before long I felt that we were honorary members of the group. Soon we were doing "head on" approaches. I left it to the Ds to avoid a collision, which, of course, they had no trouble with. Many times as we crossed I had a tail about 15 cms from my mouth and I wondered how silly I would feel if the D gave a me a whack. No teeth and a wired jaw would be the result I reckon. No such thing happened as any D knows exactly where other creatures in its vicinity actually are. Another sign of complete acceptance on the day was that on several occasions when I was swimming alongside a couple of Ds at a depth of 3 metres I'd catch movement out of the corner of my eye on the other side. When I looked over I'd see two more Ds swimming along so that the five of us were in formation.
After 30 mins I asked Gee how long he thought we had been there and he said an hour. It was that kind of day.
Five minutes later the Ds decided that they had better things to do with their lives and moved off.
Thanks girls, it was a real blast.


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