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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Swimming with Dolphins

A few weeks ago, the camper van, which was something of my home for a short while, winded itself down to one of the southern-most tip of New Zealand (except for Stewart Island). I had heard about the immaculate union found between swimming with dolphins. So Tyler and I, hoped to join in this marine dance at Porpoise Bay; a place where no one charges you for an encounter with these fantastic creatures. Most places charge you about $100 or more. They motor you out on a boat into a merry throng of porpoises and you get in the water and swim participating in some solemn ritual of nature and all its wonder and glory.

All we spent was $10. For the rental of the wetsuits, which as we found out was a necessity. We were as close to Antartica that is almost possible on this side of the globe. Also, down here the season is acclerating towards winter, not summer. The style is just to walk out into the cold, cold water, admist many shrieks and hollers. And then about neck high, make many high-pitched calls...which the dolphins can detect from a long, long distance. Next when they swim forwards, float flat on your back and the dolphins will swim around you.

I was ready to venture into the waters as soon as possible. But Tyler wanted to warm up before the frigid plunge, so he said he would be doing gassers (running back and forth on the beach). I thought that it was cold enough outside, so why not just get into the water now. So I wade out into the ocean. Making these high pitched calls into the water. The wetsuit is sleeveless in both the arms and the legs. Freezing, with goosebumps rippling through my body. and wondering why Tyler is not joining me. (Misery is always better when shared.) Eventually, Tyler enters the sea.

We stay out there for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. Ignoring the pain until everything goes numb. No dolphins. Finally, we see the small, sleek dorsal fin go jut out of the water, all of them in sync. And fall back into the waves. The dolphins...they were coming. There was about 6 or 7 of these guys. Hector Dolphins is what they are called. They're a bit smaller than your ordinary dolphin and have this darker color to them. They are only indigenous to New Zealand waters. The dolphins swim by us and around us briefly and then disappear as they shoot across the ocean. Everytime that we think about leaving, they approach nearby in shallow waters. I think they liked swimming with humans more in shallow water. And again the light play would ensue followed by their darting out again. Finally, the left for a while and the both of us were freezing so we headed back to shore. Only to find out that that dry towel I was dreaming about was gone for the girls had driven the entire camper van to some other point. So I had to drip dry in the cold air, and then put on my clothes. For the next few hours, I couldn't ever get my feet warm.

While waiting on the girls to return, I talked with the man who ran the store where we rented the wetsuits from. He said that he swims with the dolphins out there every Friday. Come rain or shine. The height of summer of the dead of winter. The cold is said was just a thing to block out when particpating in such wonderful rituals.


Blogger ПАПА said...

Can you spell ...h-y-p-o-t-h-e-r-m- i-a? How about g-r-e-a-t-w-h-i-t-e?

8:13 PM  
Anonymous the author said...

I was thinking that if the local New Zealanders can swim regularly with the dolphins then so can I.

And great whites I just don't focus on. I have a great fear of these creatures. Besides, I hear that the dolphins will protect you against sharks.

5:10 AM  

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