Swimming with the Dolphins

When I was 8 years old my grandpa moved to Utah from California be close to us in his retirement years. He brought a large moving truck and unloaded a house full of power tools, electronic toys, and many other things which I either failed to notice or didn’t care to remember. One of the electronics I cared about and used as much as he would let me was his CB radio. It was no normal CB radio; somehow he had the wattage increased so this one could take over or “jam” any channel for 50 miles. I loved taking over a channel, talking to a handful of people, and just behaving like an irritating prepubescent. Once in a while an irate trucker would have some choice words for the person with the handle “Dolphin,” who was me. From the time I can remember dolphins were my favorite animals. As a kid I tried to imitate them, as an adult I find peace in their element. I have surfed with them, pet them at marine parks, and seen them from afar during ocean swims, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I got to talk to and play with wild dolphins.

I thought Dax and Mac would join me while Anne herded the little two. If the water had been above 13 degrees Celcius (58 degrees Fahrenheit), they would have. I do have to admit, it was cold. My normal lung capacity was cut by two-thirds, but the experience was magnificent. We went out with Dolphin Discoveries on their winter excursion, which took you to swim with dolphins and tour the Bay of Islands, including the Hole in the Rock. The captain and wildlife expert found dolphins within the first 30 minutes of the trip. The first two they spotted were Spot and Psycho. My old surfing partner, the kids’ Uncle Todd, has a slight fear of dolphins. He isn’t afraid of all dolphins, just the one psycho in the group. He reasons anytime you get a large group of people together there is at least one lunatic in the group, so the same must go for dolphins. I thought of Uncle Todd as I jumped in and swam after Psycho. It turns out dolphins are much faster than I am. Thankfully, they turned around and came back to play. We exchanged a few words and they welcomed me to the bottom 5 meters below.

psycho dolphin dolphins at bottom

When I got down to them, they had a fish in their mouth and were taking turns playing with the poor dead thing. One of them swam up to me with a fish in its mouth, begging me to take it and swim away with it, in a sort of cross-mammal game of tag. I felt honored they gave me that kind of respect, but I was more like a toddler among Olympic sprinters and couldn’t really play well at their game.

dolphin leaving

I swam for 20-30 minutes before the dolphins tired of my very few dolphin sounds and the hypothermia started setting in. The crew called me and the one other swimmer, a nice Englishman, back to the deck. I headed into the warmer confines of the boat to savor the memories of the swim and to encourage the boys to jump in next time even if it is freezing.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

8 thoughts on “Swimming with the Dolphins

  1. I finally had a chance to catch up with the adventure – sort of feels like bingeing on a set of Tivo’d “The Amazing Race” episodes. I’m not seeing as much mockery and conflict as I’m used to seeing on the TV show but I suppose we can’t expect that from one well-adjusted, loving family . . . yet. 😉

    The thoughts and photos are great. Can’t wait to show the kids your dolphin video.

  2. Did you guys see the 20/20 special on Dolphins who attack humans before you all did this? I would have been terrified to get in there after watching that…

  3. Your swim with the dolphins sounded magical. I’m sure it was enhanced by the lack of other “tourists”.
    Meeting (friendly) animals in their own element is an amazing experience. You must have made pretty convincing dolphin sounds to get offered a fish!
    Did the water feel colder than surfing in Malibu?
    We’re looking forward to the video!

  4. thats incredible!
    im jelouse!
    oh and i want that radio that you were talking about int the beging!!
    the mayhame me and vickie could cause!

  5. Hold on…picking up my jaw from the floor. Ok, wow! That made my hair stand up. Not just watching Tom, but hearing Anne’s cute little laugh and pure joy watching you on your adventure. What an amazing once in a life time. Yet only the beginning of MANY more once in a lifetimes. It’s hard to fathom…thank you for letting us live vicariously through you. I’ve become an avid “six in the world” reader. It’s my latest read. Can’t ever wait for the next post. LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

  6. I don’t know Tom; are you sure that was a wise idea swimming with a dolphin named psycho?

    Let me know if you’ve gained any insights into the deranged dolphin mind. The intel could come in handy one day. You never know.

Leave a Reply