Throughout the years, I have noticed the special relationship between children and dolphins. They have similar spirits of playfulness and joy.
Its a blessing to bring children to meet the dolphins in the ocean, traveling in boats or swimming from shore.
When the children and the dolphins meet, everyone nearby feels the magic in the air! Natural and spontaneous, the children start laughing and splashing the water. The dolphins circle and begin diving with tail slaps and whistles, cavorting on the surface so the children can see them easily. The dolphins look above the water and make eye contact. Soon everyone is laughing!
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I have befriended many dolphin babies who are quite interested in people and often go out of their way to swim alongside me. The dolphin moms seem okay with this and we have many active days together, diving, racing and playing games. Often the babies will swim so fast and so close to me that the auntie or the mom will intervene and swim next to me to be sure the young ones are not too rambunctious! They do seem a bit reckless sometimes as they careen into the air, spinning and falling within a foot of my head, splashing me with water. However, I am not concerned. I remain alert, watching every move they make, but they seem to be aware of my presence and are careful with me.
Getting to know them brings me so much joy. A large part of the pleasure of my research is due to their enchanting behaviors as they play together, learn to spiral in the air, chase each other, catch leaves on their dorsal fins, ride the bow waves of boats, show off for each other and venture away from their always watchful parents.
On this web page, I am happy to share the stories of one of these active and joyful dolphins, SPINNER, a baby Spinner dolphin who lives in the ocean near my backyard and plays with the humans in our human-dophin community.
On September 9, 1998 Spinner was born in the warm coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean into a family of Hawaiian Spinner dolphins. She was welcomed by her mother, Two Nicks, her fathers, aunties, cousins, elders and three other babies, Tulip, Whitey and Arrow, who were born on the same day. They were all the color of rain clouds with white bellies, still wrinkled and thin from being curled in their mothers' wombs, the dorsal fins on their backs, still soft and lying over to one side.
As soon as Spinner was born, she rolled over in the water, straightening her body, and looked for the sunshine on the water. Seeing the brightness above her, she quickly moved her little tail up and down, swimming to the surface to breathe. Spinners blowhole on the top of her head opened and closed as she took quick, deep gulps of wet, salty air. She felt the breeze and the sun on her head and was filled with wonder about this dazzling bright world above the ocean.
She felt her mom at her side now, touching her gently, feeling happy to have such a perfect little dolphin for her daughter.
Immediately Spinner dove down into the water to explore the wonderful blue, blue ocean. Moving her tail quickly, she dashed here and there, saying Hello to all the adult dolphins. They whistled a welcome to her and touched her lovingly with their fins as she whizzed by. They were so happy to meet her. They had already known Spinner before she was born because they could talk to her and tell her stories while she was waiting in her mothers body. The dolphins used their sonar like a telephone line to communicate with the babies in the womb. And Spinner had come to know the pod, their feelings and different personalities while she waited to be born. She knew Wrinkley. He was her favorite. . . A teen-age dolphin, so speedy and playful, able to leap high out of the water and do cartwheels in the air. He had told her many things about his life before she was born. Spinner looked for him now, but couldnt find him.
Meanwhile, her mom had to move fast to keep up with her, trying to gently tuck Spinner under her pectoral fin as she began to teach her to ride the water wave made by moms body. This would be important for Spinner to know when the dolphin family took long trips along the coastline. Then Spinner could rest by riding in Two Nicks wave stream.
Thinking of Wrinkley reminded Spinner that she had decided to leap and spin like him as soon as she could. Flapping her little tail quickly, she headed for the waters surface and broke through! For a brief moment she flew in the air before falling like a fish, flop! back to the water. Not quite a cartwheel or even a spin, but she liked it anyway, and thought jumping out of the water was fun.
Two Nicks came to her side and again reminded her to stay close. Then something white and thick and warm filled Spinners mouth as her Mom gave her some rich milk to drink. This was delicious and Spinner wanted more! Now she was content to stay at moms side, drink the warm milk and have a nap. It had been a busy morning.