Just what is the big deal with dolphins?
Everywhere I turn, everyone seems to love dolphins. See the dolphins! tourism ads proclaim. Meet the dolphins! Swim with the dolphins! Swim with the WILD dolphins! Everyone seems to go completely gaga over the damn things.
Well, here’s the thing. Dolphins are seriously overrated.
I’ve met the dolphins. I’ve met the wild dolphins. And they completely failed to impress me in any way.
For many years Australia’s premiere site for communing with wild dolphins was Monkey Mia right here in WA. There are plenty of other places to see dolphins these days, but that was the first place where wild dolphins started coming into the beach and begging for food. It’s still a major tourist draw, despite being in the middle of nowhere, and we stopped off there to meet the dolphins on a family trip back when I was in high school.
And we did meet the dolphins. Or at least the dolphin, as only one turned up. In the midst of a big crowd of tourists we waded waist deep into the ocean and saw the dolphin. We saw the dolphin, we touched the dolphin, we listened to a lecture about the dolphin courtesy of the ranger minding the dolphin, a few randomly selected folk fed fish to the dolphin, the dolphin bit my brother, then got bored and swam away, and we waded out of the ocean.
That was it. No great revelation. No amazing sense of joy, wonder and communication with another intelligent being – just standing around in cold, salty water prodding at something that could have been a wetsuit full of custard for all the profundity it provided.
We returned to Monkey Mia a few years later with my Aunt who was out from the UK and wanted to meet the dolphins. We sat around on the beach until the dolphins arrived and everyone stampeded down to the water – everyone except me that was, as I was reading a rather good book and couldn’t see the point in putting it down to go and stand in the water, gawking at something rather dull that I’d had my fill of the last time.
Everyone was wildly concerned. Didn’t I want to see the dolphins they asked? Was I alright? Was I feeling ill? Was I – my Aunt asked quietly to spare me any embarrassment – scared of the dolphins? No, I explained. I was fine, I’d just seen the dolphins before and didn’t feel that I needed to see them again.
They all looked at me as if I was dangerously insane, but then the lure of the dolphins proved too much and they scurried down to the water, leaving me to my book, which was far more interesting than any cetacean could ever be.
Now, pinnidpeds – particularly the otariidae – I have time for. They’re smart, playful and entertaining, and you can interact with them without getting wet (well, too wet). They have personalities. But dolphins… dolphins are just dull, and fail to excite me.
Read into that what you will – if that is, you have any time for reading while there are dolphins around.