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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Swimming with Dolphins at Natures Valley

In February I posted about whether or not Dolphins sometimes surf for the pure joy of it. I believe they do and I related an experience of surfing with dolphins at Natures Valley, South Africa years ago (see link below). After many years I was fortunate to experience this again just 10 days ago.

On April 18th I was standing on the rocky point of Blue Rocks looking back at the beach when I noticed about 25 dolphins between the point and the rocks closer to the shore. Unlike the day before, they were in no hurry. They seemed to be relaxing there surfing and jumping the occasional wave. Perhaps they were fishing but they seemed not to be too "busy".

Blue Rocks is not a place I normally swim at. It's not safe. However, after observing for some time I noticed that there were no major currents this day. The tide was also very low. In fact I began to suspect the dolphins were relaxing there because it was a calm spot to do so that day.
After walking around the rocks, wading to waist depth, and further current/wave observation, I swam tentatively out to join them. My heart was racing. When I was about 10m away one of the larger dolphins came to meet me. I had forgotten how huge they are up close. In fact I briefly wondered if I'd be seen as a threat this time. I couldn't blame them for that. Perhaps they'd had a bad experience with a fishing trawler. Perhaps they had young to protect. But he or she just circled me inquisitively, almost within reach, and then returned to the pod.

A moment later 3 of them did the same. It was as if they were coming to greet me so I swam a little closer. The pod was clearly not bothered by me. I spent about 10 ecstatic minutes swimming in the waves amongst them. They continued to surf around me as though they were including me (in my head I was included, but who knows..) but they never came close enough to touch. I could've stayed all day but I didn't want to be caught by a surprise current close to the rocks. I retreated to the beach with all my senses on overload. I couldn't have been happier.

I'm sure dolphins have the capacity to have fun. They certainly have the capacity to provide us inconsiderate humans with an excess of it. What an undeserved privilege I had that day.
For my previous dolphin post click here:
Note: Natures Valley beach is generally not considered a safe swimming beach. Pay very careful attention to waves and currents before entering and do not swim alone.

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