Captain’s Log, Star date May 1, 2009. Somewhere off the Guatemala coast:
The days are hot, and the nights are still, as we motor through a sea of turtles, floating on the oily surface. The dolphins have been with for days. So much so that nobody pays attention anymore. We almost wish they would go away, so we could catch some fish! Dolphins are amazing though. We nearly forget that we share the planet with other highly evolved, conscious beings. Consider this: Dolphins have a larger brain for their body size than humans, and they use nearly 80% of it, whereas humans use only 15-20%. Dolphins have a complex language of sonar clicks and whistles, which they can direct individually at each other when talking, and can even shoot a concentrated beam of sound to stun a fish 30 feet away, then swim up and eat it before it recovers! Dolphins mate for life, and have complex family ties, yet they are completely promiscuous, having sex with anyone and everything- their bellies turn pink when they are horny. Often they will swim up to a boat, and start mating, just to show off: “look what we do, look what we do!” . They are the best swimmers in the ocean, and are constantly shedding a microscopic film from their skin, which reduces drag. They seem to nearly stand still, while rocketing through the water. Dolphins have almost no risk from predators (except humans). Dolphins have the best life-style, they don’t even need to invent cars and computers. Dolphins eat sushi every day. And, of course, dolphins are the original surfers. Two of the most amazing things I have ever seen involve dolphins. The first was in Kauai, where I worked as a whale watching guide for many years: The Humpback whales come down to Hawaii each year to mate, and give birth to their young. At this time, 40 ton animals fight it out over the females, jumping, or “breaching” into the air, to land on each other, and to show off. Whale sex is very dramatic. One day we were miles offshore, with a boatload of tourists from Iowa and Kansas, who had never seen the ocean before, and certainly not a whale. The ocean was “oil-glass”, you could see the clouds reflected in the water, and we seemed to be flying through space. Around us were 3 or 4 groups of whales breaching, mating, and swimming under the boat. The tourists were amazed, and slightly scared. I knew that everything was ok, and was enjoying one of the best whale shows I had ever seen. Then, from around the corner of the island came the dolphins, about 1000 of them. When the dolphins figured out what was going on, that the whales were having sex, all hell broke loose. The dolphins started jumping in the air, spinning, leaping for joy! “Yippee, whale sex!” they seemed to be saying, “WAHOO” !! They swam up to us and started mating, showing their pink bellies. All around us now was the most amazing dolphin show that Sea-World could ever hope to replicate. Dolphins were jumping and doing triple flips in threes and fours, back-flips, triple gainers, little babies jumping, old grandpa dolphins spinning, huge whales breaching all around us, again and again, in every direction, and everybody having sex with everybody… A real aquatic orgy. I couldn’t even move the boat. We were dumbstruck. People were crying, and hugging eachother for joy. It was amazing… So dolphins have always been some of my very favorite animals. And in Hawaii, we would always take every chance we could get to swim with them. Dolphins get bored with human swimmers though – not fast enough. You can stir up some dolphin interest if you dive down deep though, dolphins like that. They say that dolphins can also read humans using their sonar. They know when a woman is pregnant, or menstruating, and they know what kind of mood you are in. That’s why I was glad to see the dolphins the other night: Halfway across the Tehuantepec gulf, in the middle of the night, we got a fisherman’s long line wrapped around our propeller. With no wind, we couldn’t sail, so, I had no choice but to jump in and try to clear the line. Scary. I knew there were fish attached to this line, and I thought about the sharks that might be hanging around looking for a free meal. But, the dolphins had been with us for about an hour, so I knew I would be safe. I jumped into the black water with a knife and a underwater flashlight. As I worked to cut away the line, I could hear, and even “feel” the dolphins clicking and whistling, and sounding me out. “What is he doing, this crazy human?” they seemed to be saying. They stayed with us the whole time I was underwater. When I finally got back on board, and got the boat moving again, we were treated to one of the most amazing dolphin spectacles I have ever seen: It was a dark night, no moon. The phosphorescence was very bright, and the boat left a trail of stars behind it on the calm sea. The dolphins, excited by our movement, raced around like glowing torpedoes in the water. We went to the bow of the boat, to watch as they raced in front of the boat. This is a spectacle I have seen countless times during the day, and even at night before, but this night was special. The water was so clear, and the phosphorescence so bright that you could see the outline of the dolphins almost more clearly than you could in daylight, for there was no glare, no chop on the water, only a perfect halo of light around each one. Like dolphin spirits, or ghosts, racing in front of the boat, leaving spiral trails of light like cosmic smoke trails. This was something straight out of Hollywood special effects, but better, because it was live. Every movement, every flick of the tail, the way they move their noses right before they change directions, even the expressions on their faces, clearly illuminated in heavenly sparks. Down and around they went, off into the distance, just to come racing back at the boat, then dive, then twist, then shoot off again in front, smiling and clicking as they went… We watched for… hours maybe, Im not sure, completely silent, and thankful. We are living something straight out of a discovery channel special, I swear. Sometimes sailing can be difficult, sometimes it can be downright scary, but Im just glad that it comes with good Dolphin Karma.