My day began, as many other days this summer, with a snorkeling tour on the Stenella. We were all delighted to find a very calm and curious group of Atlantic spotted dolphins that displayed the perfect behavior for an interaction with guests in the water. All our participants behaved very well during the encounter and this allowed the animals to approach us closely a number of times.
I’ve written this before; you cannot get used to meeting a dolphin underwater. It’s an experience you appreciate every single time and, every so often, I often find myself reflecting on the encounters. The curse of the dolphin are its facial features that, unfortunately for the animal, give the misleading impression that it’s constantly smiling. In the process of understanding another beings behavior, we always search for something we can relate to. Since our smiles can be received as an indication of happiness or friendliness, we associate the same emotional attributes to certain dolphin species. This has also, unfortunately, lead to the tragic captivitiy of these animals in marine parks around the world. Every person signing up for the snorkeling tours with Lobosonda donates 5€ to the Ric’O Barry Foundation that is set on keeping these animals in their natural habitat, where they undoubtedly belong.
Underwater I think its easier to understand that the profound nature of a dolphin goes far beyond its deceptive smile. You watch the animals swim around and towards you. You hear them communicate amongst one another using whistles and squawks, and you feel the clicks they make during echolocation in your chest. While a certain dose of empathy and biological knowledge on the animals does help with observations, the complexity of their social life and the perception of their surroundings makes categorizing such observations very difficult.
The humility I have towards these animals means that I don’t feel threatened in not being able to categorize a lot of their behavior, it just makes me all the more curious about them and eager to learn more. They put a smile on my face which, for me and probably for most guests in this case, is a genuine sign of happiness.
by Paula Thake
17:00 Rough toothed dolphin
9:00 Atlantic spotted dolphin
12:00 Atlantic spotted dolphin
15:30 Atlantic spotted dolphin
18:00 Rough toothed dolphin