My First Dolphin Encounter! – 3/19

We’d only been living on the island of Oahu, Hawai’i a couple months when my husband’s coworker offered to take us out to the beautiful western waters on his boat. I’d grown up living for summers on California lakes, exploring the waters on my parents’ boat. After living in Colorado the past few years, I was eager to be shown the best spots by a local. The weather and the water were picture-perfect, and the brilliant blue of the sky, dotted by cotton-ball clouds, met the turquoise waters as I gazed towards the horizon. The lush green island behind me harbored beaches full of people, and Hawai’ian reggae music drifted across the water with the slight breeze.

In the distance to my right, I noticed a lot of white caps on the water, unusual in the calm weather. I pointed it out to my host, who immediately started the engine before exclaiming, “dolphins!”. My heart leapt. The very TOP of my bucket list, the dream at the top of all my dreams, was to swim with wild dolphins. We raced to get in front of the pod, and before he could cut the engine, I had jumped over the side and into the water. I could not wait.

As soon as my head went underwater, I heard them. Whistles, clicks, sounds that can only be compared to a gloved hand rubbing against a balloon. Then through the deep blue, I saw them in front of me. Their sleek bodies swam to the left and right of me, their eyes looking right into mine. I looked down and couldn’t see the bottom, but multitudes of Spinner Dolphins swam under me, the small bubbles released during their communication rising and catching the light, turning the blue ocean into a glittering world full of whistles and creaks. Then suddenly they were past me. My heart still raced, and I remembered to take a breath. I sang out to them, as much in uncontrolled elation as in any attempt to communicate my love and excitement. To my disbelief, they came back, swimming around and under me again, 2 full circles around me. I spun in the water, surrounded by the dancing, playful family.

There had to be at least 100 spinner dolphins, some lazily swimming near the bottom, some looking right at me, and the experience was overwhelmingly wondrous. I saw calves, swimming close to their mothers, and scarred, older individuals, their long striped bodies slicing through the water in a slow, sleepy travel as they rested from their night of hunting. I lost myself in the magic of them. Then they were gone again, fading into the blue, and I remembered where I was, remembered to look around for the boat, which I had drifted quite far from.

I will never ever forget that incredible magic, how they really LOOKED at me, curiously, right in the eye, this human who splashed briefly into their wide blue world.


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