Monday, December 19, 2005

19 Dec - Ten lords a-leaping

What have ten leaping lords got to do with a dolphin diary? Not much, really, but read on and you will see the tenuous connection.
Monday was a dismal day - heavy cloud and a strengthening onshore wind. I arrived at Bay1 to see a small gathering of the early morning swimmers on the shore staring intently at a couple of dolphins only twenty metres from shore. They informed me that they had watched another creature swimming in the shallows but could not identify it. They decided that they would forego their daily swim.
There were two dolphins about 100 metres from shore but, given the conditions, I was not keen to get wet and cold. However, when 3 more joined them I decided that I should get out there. While I was on my way to them I saw a really exhilarating sight. About 300 metres from shore a young dolphin did nine consecutive vertical leaps, its tail clearing the water by at least a metre. That meant that its head was about 3 metres above the surface. I have seen a dolphin perform a couple of consecutive leaps before but never anything like this. I decide that I had to see what was the cause of this excitement. I paddled straight past the original two dolphins who were probably a bit surprised that I did so. When I reached the spot where the leaping had taken place there were a lot of birds floating on the surface but not a fin in sight. The birds had descended on the spot after the leaps, thinking that it meant a feed was available. I doubted that the leaps were prompted by fish but I don't have any idea what initiated it. If it was to flee a predator I would think that the leaps would have been more horizontal but these were vertical and from almost the same place each time.
As I moved back to shore I was passed by two dolphins swimming in the opposite direction. They managed to ignore me as I had them. Can't say that I blame them. Shortly after 3 more did the same thing.
I read an email today that said that you should measure your life, not by the number of breaths that you take, but by the moments that take your breath away. The young, leaping dolphin added one more breathless moment to my list.
I went to check on Bay2 which is somewhat sheltered from the wind. There were dolphins moving in and out of the bay but they don't seem to enjoy being on the surface when it is choppy. Two young dolphins gave me an up close and personal swim for about two minutes before they were called away by Mum. The sun broke thru as I finished my swim and I sat on the beach and enjoyed watching the dolphins interacting with each other close to shore.


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