Saturday, July 10, 2010

When species collide... it's special

Poor Moko is no more. He was a bottle-nosed dolphin who liked humans more than other dolphins, as sometimes happens, and had delighted people between the Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay all through summer. He was found this week washed up on the beach of an uninhabited island near Tauranga, and an autopsy is under way, although his body was so decomposed that a definitive answer about why he died isn't expected. It wasn't old age though: he was only four.

We've had other lone dolphins, most famously Opo and Pelorus Jack, and other countries have had them too, right back to ancient times. Even though it's not natural that a wild creature should shun its own kind in favour of playing with people, clearly seeking out and enjoying their company, it's impossible not to feel flattered and special, and it's the kind of thing you would remember forever, as a fabulous gift.

I've never - yet - encountered one of these exceptionally sociable creatures, though I have swum with dolphins on a commercial trip up in the Bay of Islands, and that was pretty wonderful. The most remarkable thing for me was being in deep water, most definitely out of my element, seeing big (2 metre) marine animals swooping towards me and feeling not the slightest alarm - instead, excitement and delight. The only negative emotion was embarrassment at being so awkward and clumsy in comparison, and not even able to dive to play with them, as some of the other people were doing. I felt I was a bit of a disappointment to them, to be honest - but it was still marvellous, to see them twisting and turning through and around us with such grace and skill, and hear their clicks and beeps and know they were communicating.
I also know, because the Baby has told me often enough, that they're not smiling: that's just a physiological quirk (she prefers the Simpsons version of dolphins) but mine was totally genuine - as it was with all the animals in the Galapagos Islands, who were so laid back about us humans. Especially the sealions.

1 comment:

virginia bed and breakfast said...

The Moko Dolphin was a beautiful dolphin in Matakana Island. It was a fun activity for many surfers in the island to enjoy some great time playing with the dolphin. It is a big sorrow for many surfers that it is no more alive now.

The dolphins are blessings of nature and they should be given proper care and attention in order to make them alive for a long time.

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