I’m excited to share my first video clip from the Dolphin Dance Project! This clip was shot by Brett LeMaster on the last morning of our trip – the very special trip about which I wrote at the end of my previous blog entry. We recorded much beautiful footage of the human dolphin dance during the week – but it was not until that last morning that all the conditions were right for us to film the intimacy of the human-dolphin ‘duet’.
(if you enjoy this clip, please rate it on youtube; you can also see it and a breakdown of the interaction in our new gallery.)
On that morning the ocean had quieted after days of high surf. Leaving the harbor at sunrise, we quickly found dolphins cavorting in a bay not far away. The dolphins must have had a good night of fishing as many dolphins were playful and interactive, not yet resting, even though that is what they had come to the bay to do. As we slowly and carefully approached in the boat, several dolphins gathered around, spy hopping to see us. The water was not very clear, churned up by the surf from the days before…but I could hear the dolphins chattering as soon as I entered the water. As I glided towards the chatter, seven dolphins quickly surrounded me…inviting me for a swim in their midst! Leina and Ben joined me in the water… as did, eventually, Kasumi and Patrice. And the dolphins seemed to enjoy us all. Often separating into twos and threes, those seven dolphins stayed with us for over an hour that morning…leading us this way and that…diving down with us…and circling around…choreographing us in a lovely dance. The clip you see here is just one moment from this human-dolphin dance.
Moments like this are incredibly precious – but not actually rare. Dolphins seem to be as attracted to us as we are to them, and often approach us with great trust. Still, I think footage like this is quite uncommon, and perhaps that is because this moment is really a ‘trio’ between the dolphin, me and Brett, who was filming. As we dance, I am following the dolphin’s lead…and I hardly know where Brett is. So it had to be Brett, who positioned himself just so…and the dolphin who had to lead me towards Brett.
No doubt it was helpful that Brett is a veritable ‘dolphin magnet’! As Brett stayed many feet below, holding the camera – and his breath, for what sometimes seemed an incredibly long time – I often saw the dolphins circling over his head in seeming admiration.
Please rest assured that as we pursue the Dolphin Dance Project we are always diligent about dolphin ‘etiquette’ – as everyone who swims with dolphins should be. Our encounters with wild dolphins are completely voluntary; we never coerce them in any way. Only the dolphins’ generosity and curiosity leads our interactions. If you have the opportunity to meet wild dolphins – please follow these guidelines, which also guide us. They were written by Kathleen Dudzinski, PhD who has conducted one of the longest standing field research projects on wild dolphins and is quite expert in interacting with wild dolphins.
In my experience, wild dolphins of all kinds are amongst the most generous and inviting ‘cultural groups’ that a person could ever hope to encounter. Indeed, visiting dolphins is a little like visiting a foreign country. The more I learn about the ‘local’ culture – through books, videos, or observation – the better I can ‘fit in’…be polite…and have the best social interactions possible.
Thank you for viewing my very first video clip! I hope you enjoyed it and that you will enjoy the series of clips that I will post soon! I am very interested in your reactions…so please post any and all of your comments…anything that strikes you…or any questions that may come up
In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more clips from the Dolphin Dance Project. As I do so, I’ll tell you more about our experiences with the filming and also about any relevant scientific knowledge regarding dolphins. I hope this will inspire increased interest and regard for our incredible dolphin friends. And I hope this will lead us to consider dolphins in our daily lives: what we eat, what fuels we use, what we do with our garbage, and so many other human activities, affect the well being of dolphins, the oceans in which they live, and the planet we all share.
And thanks again to all who are making this Dolphin Dance Project possible…truly a dream come true. Thanks to Heather Delaney and Kimio Wheaton for helping procure the necessary hard- and software for this endeavor, my crew for their continued help and support, my donors – those of you whose generous donations helped pay for our trip! – Bryce, Kasumi, Patrice, Leina and Brett…and above all, the Pacific Spinner Dolphins!
May we all dance together for a long time to come!