Saturday, May 22, 2010

Swim with the fishes...

These pics were taken just a few hours ago...how could you refuse a face like that!...and don't she know it!


"Feed Me...dont I look cute? and LOOK, I brought my new baby with me."





About fifteen years ago when my home town was a lot smaller and I was a lot thinner, we didn’t have a marina here of any kind. Launching straight into the open sea was fraught with problems, we didn’t have many boats here either…mine was a smallish fiberglass runabout with too much power. (just the way I like it)

Many times at sea we encountered wild dolphins, when I say ‘wild’ I mean as wild as very friendly creatures can be. They would drop by just to say hello, beg a fish or two if you were so inclined and sometimes to play with us. Tail walking like they do in Seaworld is a natural thing for dolphins, tugging the anchor ropes or swimming right up to you just to look you in the eye, hovering there within a foot or two of your face. It’s very clear that in the wild, the dolphin is a very friendly, very intelligent being.

As soon as the first breakwall went up we immediately noticed a small female dolphin who would stay in the lee of the wall all winter. Early in spring she would be met by the rest of her pod and after a day or three they would disappear for several months at a time. Returning in Autumn sometime, they would play and feed in the shallows in readiness for the coming winter, at which time the pod left the female alone again…
The reason was clear, she had a huge scar running three quarters her body length diagonally right across her back, she was slightly twisted from it and clearly couldn’t swim as well as the others in her pod, but still they looked after her, and I guess, fed her.

How she even lived through whatever did that to her is beyond me, we surmised a shark attack when she was young, but we never really knew. I guess wherever the pod went in winter was beyond her abilities to follow.
The marina was finished eleven years ago now and from then on she lived here with us for most of the year. She was often seen in the shallow coastal sea grass beds with her pod, chasing Whiting, Squid and of course Cuttlefish.
It comes as no surprise then that the locals took her under their collective wing and made sure she always had fish…even when she was unable to leave the shelter of the marina for many days at a time.

I know better than to call any female, ‘fat’…but she was doing pretty well actually.

In winter, fishers including my youngest daughter (D3) and I, would fish for salmon and squid and take it straight to her, held up in the marina.
Over the years the pod has continued to grow from the six or so it was when they first started wintering here to around thirty. Rarely do you see them all together though, they travel and hunt in small packs of six to ten sentient beings.
I was fishing from the shore one bright day in Summer when a small pod came for a visit. D3 was snorkeling in the little bay nearby and the pod had a couple of very interested juveniles who were showing no fear of the floundering child. The kid and dolphins swum together for twenty minutes, sometimes as close as inches apart and it would have gone on but the dolphins got bored with the pink monkey’s lack of aquatic skills and moved on.

Sadly, the scared female turned up dead last year…washed up on a beach after a storm. She couldn’t make it back to the marina before the storm struck and we lost an old friend.
She was buried on the beach.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, the pod goes on visiting, and growing, and interacting as the female had taught them to do.
Here, you can hand feed wild dolphins, here to you can watch them tailwalk and corkscrew jump in our marina just for the fun of it. It must be said that dolphins love to show off and clown about, they appreciate an audience and play to the crowd.

Just at the moment we have another small female staying with us, she has a baby about four feet long and perhaps he’s to small to go to the winter grounds just yet.
The pod has already gone, winter is nearly here in southern Australia and the mum and calf will be here now till spring.

Today she was swimming the length of the fishing jetty begging fish and squid from the fishers, she would meet every boat as it passed the entrance and beg fish from them all the way to the ramp where she showed off her baby to the pink monkeys who gave her their days catch just to see her baby up close. Prime Whiting worth $30.00 a pound and more, freshest high quality Squid in the world….

Not for the first time I wondered….

Who has who trained?

177 comments:

Jen said...

I love when they come to play in the bow waves. I hope she doesn't have any bad experiences with humans and continues to be so friendly.

mapstew said...

WOW! How absoloutley utterly wonderful is that?

Now I just HAVE to visit someday!

And well told. :¬)

Pearl said...

I really need to get out of Minnesota every now and then.

Pearl

Tempo said...

Hi Jen, You're so right..we have to watch for kids and vandals who like to throw stuff at them..cant for the life of me understand who some people have to be so stupid.

Hi Mapstew, We kinda thought every coastal town had a pod of dolphins like this...until the blokes with lots of letters after their names started turning up to study the 'Dolphin phenomenon' Tourists are always blown away by their antics...

Hi ya Pearl, I guess like me you get out of town every day on the web...always welcome here in OZ though.

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