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I am happy to share with you a new level of human-dolphin
communication, in which our friendly Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins
acknowledge our love, and ask us for help. These are a few examples
of the trust and healing we are experiencing.
STORY I CORAL MOUTH, A BABY
In April 2000 I was having my usual morning swim
with the resident pod, when a three-month-old baby dolphin swam
toward me. She appeared to be carrying a large flower in her mouth
and was offering it to me. My warm feelings of pleasure and appreciation
changed slowly to concern as I realized the large round object
protruding from the baby's mouth was a calcified growth that looked
exactly like pink cauliflower coral and was as large as a baseball.
The baby continued to swim close to me, as I observed this solid
mass on the left side of her beak. It did not move in the water's
flow. It was stiff and appeared to be attached to or even growing
from her teeth. I had never seen anything like this before and
would be very interested to hear from anyone who might know what
this could be. I noticed a small piece of it protruded on the
opposite side of her mouth and I wondered if she could still nurse.
Her mother swam near by.
Each day the little dolphin approached me, as well as other swimmers.
The reactions from the people were always the same. At first they
thought, "She is bringing me a flower". Then they realized
it was an aberration.
This little one, named "Coral Mouth" seemed to be asking
for assistance by swimming toward me each day. A month later,
I decided to reach over and get a hold on the large calcified
coral in her mouth. As I reached out, she did not swim away, but
waited. The porous growth was rigid and hard in my hand. It was
tightly stuck in place. Being careful not to hurt her, I wiggled
it a little and loosened it as much as I could while Coral Mouth
floated calmly next to me. The growth could not be removed.
In a few days, she swam up to me. With great relief, I saw it
had fallen away. Only the small piece remained on the right side
of her mouth. By June I noticed she was able to nurse and swim
naturally, close to her mother. I think I had helped by loosening
it a little and I was warmed by the knowledge that she trusted
me to help her.
STORY II THE BABY AND THE NET
June 12, 2000 - Another Rescue
On this day there were many human-dolphin encounters occurring
in dolphin bay as usual, when a baby dolphin approached my friend
Celeste. It startled her by coming face-to-face with her snorkeling
mask and tapping the mask repeatedly with its little beak.
She asked with surprise and concern, "What? What do you want,
Honey?" Her heart felt a pain as she noticed the tail of
the baby dolphin was completely entangled in an old fishing net.
The young dolphin was having difficulty surfacing for air due
to the weight of the net. Now, Celeste understood why the dolphin
had come to her. This baby dolphin seemed to know that humans
have hands and that this particular human, had a kind and loving
heart. She would help.
Celeste, treading water, immediately attempted to remove the net,
only to realize she would need a knife to cut it free. It was
tightly tangled and embedded in the skin. The young dolphin did
not move away. Celeste held the baby dolphin gently in her arms,
allowing her to breathe more easily. She could feel its little
heart beating fast against her body
scared but trusting.
While another swimmer went for help, Celeste talked softly to
this little one, sending love to the dolphin until she felt the
heartbeat slow down. The baby dolphin looked into her eyes and
a deep level of trust and caring was shared. Another swimmer came
to assist and while Celeste gently cradled the dolphin in her
arms, most of the fishing net was slowly, carefully removed. Two
adult dolphins circled nearby, watching. There was still a long
piece of line imbedded in the tail that could not be removed,
since no one in the vicinity seemed to have a dive knife.
However, the baby dolphin was feeling better now and began to
wiggle and seek freedom. Celeste immediately let her go. The baby
swam to the two adult dolphins. They all returned to Celeste as
if to say, "thank you", swam a circle around her and
then swam away.
Those dolphins were not familiar to us; that is, they were not
ones that we know by name. Somehow, they knew that people in the
dolphin bay would help them and they came for assistance.
STORY III MESA
A few years ago, I met another Spinner who became
entangled in a fishing line. When I first saw him, the line was
wrapped around his dorsal fin, down his back and around the trunk
of his tail. It was very tangled and every movement of his fluke
created a pull on the dorsal fin. This was not a dolphin I knew
well at the time and he did not swim close to me. With great sorrow
I observed him each day as the line cut into the forward edge
of the dorsal and began to severe off the top half of his fin.
A boat captain offered me assistance with the thought of using
a soft net to catch the dolphin and quickly cutting the line free,
but the dolphin would not allow the boat to approach him.
Eventually the line cut the top of his dorsal fin off and he was
then free of the line as it finally released from being tightly
wound around his tail and fell away. This is the dolphin we call
Mesa because of his flat dorsal fin.
Swimmers and boat captains are always ready to help the dolphins
in any way they can.
STORY IV REMORA FISH
The dolphins often have suckerfish, called Remoras
on their bodies. At first these fish seem benign. They may even
be removing parasites on the skin of the dolphins. But I have
noticed that eventually they begin to cause wounds on the dolphins
where they eat away the flesh, especially in the area near the
base of the dorsal fin. These Remora fish are one of the reasons
that Spinner dolphins do so much aerial spinning. They are trying
to dislodge these fish and send them flying into the water. Often
you will see a dolphin spinning over and over again in an attempt
to remove the pesky Remora.
One day, my dolphin friend, Stitches, had one of these suckerfish
on his body. He had been trying to remove it, unsuccessfully,
spinning in the air repeatedly. They are not easy to remove. Finally
he swam over to me and looked in my eye. Obviously receiving some
kind of communication from him, I asked, "Do you want me
to try and remove it?" He came closer alongside so the Remora
was in easy reach of my hands, nearly stopped swimming altogether
and waited. Uncertain, I reached out slowly to the left side of
Stitches' back, but the Remora was too fast for me. Seeing my
approaching hand, he scooted to the right side. My hand followed
the suckerfish, around Stitches back. Stitches began to squirm,
so I gave up and righted myself in the water waiting to see what
he wanted to do. Stitches circled around and returned, to give
me another try. This time I was faster, immediately grabbed the
Remora from his back and threw it off. The fish didn't like being
without a home base, so it attached itself to my leg. (They do
this from time to time when I am swimming among the dolphins.)
I have noticed that when I swim slowly, the fish does not hurt,
but if I dive or swim fast, the Remora holds on very tightly and
it becomes painful. This is why the dolphins eventually attempt
to remove them from their bodies. For me it was easy to reach
down and remove the fish with my hands and swim away.
Not all the dolphins seek our help with the Remoras and I would
never remove one unless the dolphin asked me to. It's a cooperative
STORY V LUCKY IS LOST
In the winter of 1998, the U.S. Navy was conducting low
frequency active sonar tests in Hawaiian waters. I had been swimming
among Hawaiian dolphins for a decade and I noticed changes in
the Spinner pods during these tests. Often they were bunched together
on the surface, sometimes keeping their heads above water. Also,
their sounds were very loud, constant and disturbed. Perhaps,
they were concerned for their friends, the Humpback Whales who
were adversely affected by this sonar and had to leave the Big
Island waters altogether to escape the sounds.
STORY VI COOKIE AND THE FISH HOOK
During the testing, I was on a boat when I heard a radio call
from another boat captain who was searching for me. There was
a dolphin in distress and they were asking for my help. I immediately
motored to their location to find a confused young Spinner dolphin
who seemed unable to locate her mother. She had been swimming
erratically on the surface for quite a while now. Yet I could
see a pod of approximately 100 Spinners, not 500 feet away. I
entered the water and attempted to swim to her. She had injuries
on her underside and a round cookie-cutter shark bite on her right
flank. Her eyes were wide. She was scared, and evaded me. There
were no adult dolphins around her. I waited, resting in my boat
until she came close again. Then, slipping quietly into the water,
I was able to swim alongside her and position myself slightly
ahead of her. She easily moved into my water flow field or slipstream.
In a very short time I felt her relax and become calm as we swam
side by side together. She remained at my side, close by, in the
way she would swim with her mother.
Now I was able to gently swim with her to the nearby pod, where
she gratefully joined the other Spinners. Captain Claudia named
her "Lucky" meaning lucky to be alive!
In 1999 I noticed a dolphin with a long fishing line
hooked into its side. The line was trailing at least 24 feet behind.
Diving down, I saw it was a female called Cookie. I caught the
end of the line, hoping to remove the fishhook. Instead, I saw
the dolphin momentarily stopped in her movement as I held on to
the nylon line. She panicked and pulled hard. Naturally, I dropped
the line immediately not wanting to hurt her. I saw that I would
need something sharp to cut the line, so I swam to shore and returned
with pruning shears. After circling around me, Cookie realized
that I wanted to help. Although I could not dislodge the hook,
I was able to cut off at least 20 feet of the line. The shortened
line was not as much of a drag and was less likely to get tangled
around the fluke or in coral below. I am happy to report that
eventually the hook with the remaining line, worked its way out.
STORY VII PLASTIC BAG
It was a beautiful day and we were with the dolphins
in Keahole Bay. They were swimming with us with great exuberance
playing, diving, sounding, laughing. Flukes, fins and snorkels
made colorful, joyous ripples on the big blue sea. Everyone was
Below us we noticed a white, ghost-like object about three feet
across. What was it? The dolphins reached it first. Playfully
one dolphin took it with his rostrum and swam away with the rest
of the pod in noisy pursuit! It was a plastic bag that probably
had blown from a boat or from the shore. As we humans floated
above and watched, the dolphins, far below, took turns playing
catching it on their dorsal fins and their tails.
Then one dolphin took it on his nose and dove deep. Part of the
bag seemed to rip apart and as the dolphin spun below, the bag,
stretched-out longer, wrapping itself around him. It covered his
head and wrapped around his dorsal fin. He tried to shake it free
in the usual manner, but this time it did not loosen. He swam
unevenly, shaking his head. The bag became tighter around him.
He was at least 80 feet down beneath us.
We realized that he was in trouble. The bag was not floating away,
it was becoming tighter and the dolphin appeared to be disoriented.
Andrea, an excellent swimmer, dove quickly, down; down deeper
than the average person can go. As she approached the dolphin,
he seemed to sense her presence and her intent. He became quiet
and Andrea was able to hold her breath long enough to pull the
plastic away from his head. She dove again and the dolphin allowed
her to approach, to retrieve the bag and take it out of the water.
A tragedy was averted. The dolphins and the people were grateful!
STORY VIII DOLPHIN DECEASED
August 4, 2000
One of my boat captain friends, Veto and his wife LesLee were
on their boat in Kua Bay on this Friday morning with a small group
of people from Sweden, and the videographer, Kaiwi. Swimming in
the calm blue waters, surrounded by the friendly Spinners, they
all noticed a group of dolphins swimming in a tight circle. Wondering
what was attracting their interest, the people swam over and observed
a young Spinner surrounded by Spotted dolphins who were trying
to bring him to the surface. This young one was lying very still
just above the white sand. As the people observed and floated
above, they noticed that the juvenile was not moving. Kaiwi dove
down for a closer look. The dolphin appeared to be dead. Kaiwi
dove again, gently, respectfully, approaching it. The other dolphins
did not object or move away. Kaiwi swam to the dolphin, there
on the bottom, and softly scooped him into his arms. As they floated
upward, he felt a faint heartbeat. LesLee, on the surface, gently
swam the dolphin toward Veto in his zodiac. Veto carefully received
the dolphin, lifted it onto the boat and began to administer artificial
respiration by opening the blow hole and blowing air into the
hole. There was a nurse on board who supervised the rescue attempt,
but they were not able to detect a response. Feeling helpless
to do any more, they gently returned this fragile little one to
the water where Kaiwi dove down and returned him to the pod --
the moms and aunties. The dolphins were quiet and attentive, seeming
to appreciate this attempt to save the baby's life. The humans
left the dolphin area, respectfully. This encounter was filmed
STORY IX THE LONG LINE
August 9, 2000
Many have seen dolphins with long fishing lines wound around their
tails and their bodies. On this day, a dolphin with an attached
fishing line and swimming by itself came over to Lisa D. The dolphin
stopped and waited while Lisa unwound part of the line from the
The next day, August 10th, Lisa brought a pair of underwater,
blunted tipped scissors into the water. Immediately the same dolphin
swam right to her. Lisa was able to cut away most of the long
trailing line, but she noticed that more of the line was twisted
tightly around the fluke shank and the tail itself. Later that
same day, we watched a dolphin come over to Lisa, swimming close
to her side and guiding her in a specific direction. It would
not let her swim to the right, as it held its position on her
right side. Weaving and escorting Lisa, this dolphin brought her
close to shore. Lisa followed his lead wondering what he wanted.
There, close to shore her escort brought her directly to the same
dolphin with the fishing line still entangled on its tail. The
injured dolphin was alone in the shallow water, hovering near
the bottom. Seeing the dolphin, Lisa mentally asked, "Do
you want me to dive down to you?" Knowing that it would be
more difficult to assist when under water, Lisa floated on the
surface. The dolphin came up to her. She was able to use the scissors
and cut more of the line away before the dolphin became impatient
with holding still and began to move on. There was still fishing
line across part of the fluke, difficult to remove because it
is deeply imbedded in the skin. Perhaps he will give us another
a Dolphin Friend
June 9, 2002
We are participating in a wonderful series of events
now; in which dolphins are coming to us for assistance. These
stories are just a few of the many experiences that are taking
For years we have dreamed and talked about a healing center for
humans where dolphins would continue to assist us. By merging
with dolphin dreamtime, we discover that the dolphins are also
planning a dolphin/human center where we can assist them.
I would love to hear of your personal stories about
dolphins who are seeking and receiving human help while swimming
with us in the oceans. Thank you.
[ Home ] [ About Joan ] [ Album ] [ Dolphins & Whales with Us ] [ Human-Dolphin Village ] [ Our Children ] [ Seminars ]
Ocean, 2000-2002 [ALL