Saturday, July 24, 2010

Honoring wild, free dolphins ...

Later this morning we leave for our trip to Bimini, Bahamas to join a group through Wild Quest and an opportunity to swim with wild, free dolphins. It has been a dream of mine to swim with the dolphins. I've been on volunteer Earthwatch expeditions working side by side with marine biologists to study and capture data on the dolphins of Sarasota, Florida ... then a few years later the dolphins of Spain. Something about being in the presence of these beautiful creatures lifted my heart, spirit and soul. Then when I would see these dolphins in aquariums, zoos or amusement parks I remember how it would break my heart. I remember sitting outside the tank of a dolphin at the Minnesota zoo shortly after I had moved here and watching this dolphin swim around and around in circles. I looked into the dolphins eyes and I felt like my heart was being ripped into pieces. Humans have exploited the use of dolphins in amusement parks. For those have not seen the movie The Cove ... it's difficult to watch but is an incredible documentary of the slaughter of dolphins that has been happening annually in a remote cove in Japan ... the result of demand for dolphins to be used in amusement parks around the world.

Almost a decade ago I stayed at a Hilton Waikaloa resort on the Big Island in Hawaii where one of the resort activities was the Dolphin Quest. The resort was gorgeous and I loved it but what I remember was walking around the resort every morning, passing these dolphins, and feeling this intensely deep sadness and heaviness in my heart. Maybe it's because I have followed and been around wild free dolphins on my Earthwatch expeditions; maybe it's because I have spent time with marine biologists and have learned to respect and honor the wild nature of these beings; or maybe, just maybe, there is no reason other than they touch my soul in a way I simply can't put words to.

So on this trip that my partner and I are getting ready to embark on this week we will have the opportunity to be in the presence of wild, free dolphins IF, and only IF they choose to be in our presence. The beauty of this experience is that the dolphins are in charge. We are told not to touch them. If they choose to touch us it is up to them. Dolphins are very tactile with each other and their 'touch field' includes their sonar. I will feel blessed if they simply choose to be in my presence.

I close with a poem by Carol Ann Duffy ... for an analysis and more on this poem visit this site. I ask you to please consider not visiting or supporting amusement parks with dolphin shows. There was a time when I enjoyed dolphin shows ... then something happened to completely alter my perspective.

The Dolphins
by Carol Ann Duffy

World is what you swim in, or dance, it is simple.
We are in our element but we are not free.
Outside this world you cannot breathe for long.
The other has my shape.  The other's movement
forms my thoughts.  And also mine.  There is a man
and there are hoops.  There is a constant flowing guilt.

We have found no truth in these waters,
no explanations tremble on our flesh.
We were blessed and now we are not blessed.
After travelling such space for days we began
to translate.  It was the same space.  It is
the same space always and above it is the man.

And now we are no longer blessed, for the world
will not deepen to dream in.  The other knows
and out of love reflects me for myself.
We see our silver skin flash by like memory
of somewhere else.  There is a coloured ball
we have to balance till the man has disappeared.

The moon has disappeared.  We circle well-worn grooves
of water on a single note.  Music of loss forever
from the other's heart which turns my own to stone.
There is a plastic toy.  There is no hope.  We sink
to the limits of this pool until the whistle blows.
There is a man and our mind knows we will die here.

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