The Dolphin Whisperer, May 06 | Wild Dolphins Flock to Photographer’s Boat


Wild dolphins enjoyed leaping and twisting in pairs off the prow of the boat.

Nineteen centuries ago, the Greek moralist Plutarch made thisstatement: “To the dolphin alone, beyond all other, nature has grantedwhat the best philosophers seek: friendship for no advantage.”

Dolphin whisperer? Sure, as if you could tell a dolphin anything. They alreadyhave conversations that consist of whistles, chirps, and the usual dolphinesesounds. They are not laughing at us, but I think they know whom the joke ison.

In 1962 Drs. Dreher and Evans were aboard the research vessel Sea Quest, 300miles south of San Diego, studying gray whales. They had strung a number ofvertical aluminum poles and microphones inside Scammon’s Lagoon, erectinga type of barrier. A short time later, five Pacific Bottle-nosed dolphins werespotted about 500 yards from the barrier. After a few minutes of what was labeledconversation, a scout was sent from the group. Microphones picked up his sonarsoundings as he closely surveyed the poles.

When he returned to the pod, an explosion of whistles, chirps, and Bronx cheer-likenoises were recorded via microphones. After several minutes of conversation,the dolphins proceeded through the barrier and into the bay. Subsequent studieshave resulted in similar findings.

When I had my last boat in Florida, I always felt that a dolphin sightingwas auspicious and would result in good voyage. If several showed up to ridethe bow wave, it assured a great trip. The times they didn’t appear Isometimes ran aground or out of gas. Or maybe it was because I was three sheetsto the wind.

I always loved the dolphins. At a spiritual retreat attended by thousands,I ran into a young lady whose life’s work was dolphins. She said if yousee a dolphin, they are there to give you a message. Shealso said they were from another world. I don’t know if she meant a differentplane of existence or that they are aliens. Either way, I tend to agree,having had the pleasure of their company on many occasions.

Earlier this year I spent a beautiful winter in Florida. I no longer havemy boat (my ex-wife and her new husband are enjoying it), but I have wonderfulfriends who invited me out for a cruise in the great Gulf ofMexico for a little fishing and trip around Caladesi Island. My friend andcaptain of the boat, Mike McBurnie, and co owner Garrison agreed to my desireto come back through Hurricane Pass. On the way, the dolphins showed up jumpingoff the stern. We happily slowed down to make a big wake, hoping the dolphinsmight like to do a little surfing. Yes, they did. Then they graduated to all-outleaping and twisting in the air, then leaping in pairs, mates probably, anda mother and child.

As a rapport was established, they moved in closer to the boat. I began takingphotos that I’m sure they posed for and downright showed off. ThenI remembered the dolphin lady and wondered if they were trying to tell us something.Hmm, then the eureka, the epiphany . . . and they spoke: “Life is bliss,ENJOY!”