Saturday, February 18, 2006

14 Feb Happy Valentine's day to me

I left home feeling optimistic which was certainly not based on recent history. It may have been the forecast of a very hot day with light winds. Anyway, I got out of bed really early and drove to the beach.
As I pulled in to the carpark in bay3 there were about 50 or 60 birds enjoying a feed about 300m offshore. The type of bird involved seems to like the same type of fish as dolphins do so I peered into the early morning sunlight to see if there were any fins in amongst the birds. Sure enough, I spotted a couple. 15 minutes later I was in amongst the action and could see at least 6 dolphins appearing from time to time. The water was flat and glassy and I could hear from all around me the sound of the Ds exhaling as they prepared for another dive.
The feeding area was roughly square and about 100m by 100m. I put myself into the midpoint and waited for the Ds to approach. For the next 70 minutes I enjoyed frequent visits from happy Ds who had taken the time off from their hunting to say hello and dive around me.
I had noticed a dolphin with a calf on the edge of the area but she was directly between me and the early morning sun. She seemed to be spending a lot of time on the surface and interacting with the calf. I was having too much fun with the others to take much notice of her but, after I had been with the Ds about 25 minutes, she moved closer and out of the direct sunlight. The calf was close to the smallest that I have ever seen. Mum was pushing the baby's rostrum down by putting her own rostrum above it. It seemed that the baby was having a little difficulty with the concept of diving being a head first kind of thing. I sat on my board and watched the lesson with mum alternately trying to push the calf's head down and then nuzzling it as if to apologize. Each time the baby dived it bobbed up to the surface about as quickly as I do in my wetsuit. After about 5 minutes they moved off. I had been so intent on the lesson that I hadn't checked the mother's fin to see if she was one whom I knew.
I figure that at least a dozen Ds joined the feed while I was there and I was getting a little weary keeping up with them. When I had been in the water about an hour the mother and calf returned with adult dolphins in close attendance. They stayed on the edge but finally all approached me on the surface and then did a slow dive straight underneath me before moving away.
Gradually the numbers dwindled and after about 70 mins I was alone in the ocean. I swam slowly back to shore feeling very satisfied.


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