Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 17, 2011

the Dolphin Summit

Sally, you’ve gotta come out here and see this!  There are dolphins.”   Though I had been sleeping the morning away after a long night shift, dolphins were one thing that I never wanted to miss.  And the excitement and insistence in Tony’s voice catapulted me out of bed.

We were in rough waters and we were sailing along at a good clip.  I carefully made my way towards the bow gripping my camera tightly in one hand and the lifelines and railing with the other.  Grey forms surrounded the boat in every direction.

“There must be 50 of them!” I exclaimed, energized by the exuberance of the svelte forms easily outpacing our speeding boat.

“There’s a lot more than that… “Tony shook his head as if he couldn’t believe it himself.

They surrounded us swimming in groups, formations or just solo.   Often 8 or10 swam abreast in rows, surfacing in unison and dipping back under the translucent water.  Like the most adept synchronized swimmers in history, pairs spiraled around one another, mirroring each other’s motions in graceful dance.  Ahead of us the showoffs rocketed out of the water unbelievably high, somersaulting, spiraling, and flipping over in the air with acrobatic proficiency that would put Dorothy Hammill to shame.

I drank in every second.  There was no way I could ever get enough of these.  I filmed for a while, and then took pictures, wishing I could catch every second of it.  Wishing I could capture the feeling of jubilation the dolphins brought.  I didn’t even have to look at the screen, everywhere I pointed the

camera there were dolphins

They’re still coming!” Tony exclaimed.  And they were.  More and more of the lithe grey figures poured in.  As far as the eye could see; miles in the distance, dove-grey bodies rocketed out of the waves.  Almost as if they were judging the ship’s location befo

re joining the grand dolphin summit that was taking place at our boat.

I laughed as a terrified school of flying fish skimmed over the waves, away from danger.  Nobody followed.  They didn’t have anything to worry about.  The dolphins didn’t have food on the brain.  Today was clearly about playing, enjoying themselves, and lightheartedly lapping the sailboat.  Perhaps discussing larger issues at their summit, but you couldn’t tell from the creatures’ cavorting.

I wanted desperately to dr

ag behind the sailboat.  To be in the water with our nautical neighbors and have the experience of being a little closer to this exuberance.  Sadly we were going nearly 10 knots, far too fast to play that game.  If I tried to hold on, the rope would rip out of my hands, one of the huge swells would pull me under, or worse.  No, it was much safer to stay on board.

With one hand I clung tight to the lifelines and railing at the bow as the boat came up one swell and down the other side, the other snapping photos and video like mad.  The 10-foot swells rolled us this way and that, but I didn’t care.  Braving the turbulent seas w

as worth every second.  My heart soared watching the beautiful creatures frolic, darting in and out of the waves, as if they were flirting with the air, attempting flight.  The lithe beings embodied grace itself.

“They’re still coming there’ve gotta be over three hundred out there,” Tony marveled from the starboard side.

This was far more dolphins than I had seen in my life.  For myself and Susie it wasn’t surprising that this was more dolphins than we had ever seen but for the salty seadogs, the real mariners, now that was really something.  When Tony told me that it was more than he had ever seen, someone who had spent more of his life on the ocean than on land, I was impressed.  That meant something.

Even as huge waves crashed over the bow of the boat soaking me to the skin I couldn’t stop smiling.  The energy the dolphins brought was intoxicating.  All around us they surfed the large waves to their apex before shooting into the air.  They didn’t stop playing for a second.  Half an hour later and more were still coming, an hour and they still weren’t all at the boat.

Though countless dolphins only swam with the boat briefly before moving on to make way for their compatriots, others remained with us.  I saw one of them, a large figure with a perfectly round freshly-healed scar just behind his head. I got the distinct impression that this dolphin was male and somehow I felt drawn to this particular dolphin.  Who was he? How had he gotten the scar?  What had happened?

Each dolphin had its own individual stories and personality.  Seeing them like this made the fact that they were sentient beings all the more real.

A part of me is curious to know what brought these pods together.  I knew that dolphins often swim with sailboats, but I had never heard of more than 300 coming together to escort a boat.  I had never heard of so many dolphins coming together in the wild.  There is a part of me that is curious about the scientific explanation, or perhaps the dolphin logic behind this great meeting.  But that is only a part; I think I almost prefer to have an unspoilt magical experience surrounded by the dolphin summit.


  1. Here’s hoping a Dolphinologist picks up this post and provides an answer.

  2. I hope so too! I would love to know why so many of them surrounded the boat. They are such fascinating creatures…

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