[Earlier in the week I
had a great time at Dieck Elementary in
Swartz Creek making presentations on Rare and Endangered Animals In
Michigan. A couple new folks from Dieck are joining the list and I want
to welcome them as well as thank them for a wonderful visit!]
One of the great things about travel is that you get to expand your
horizons, strengthening your understanding and experience of the world.
While in Hawaii every single day I was exposed to new sights, new
sensations, new landscapes, new animals and even new forces on the
earth that I had never come across before. Whether I was walking across
a crater with steam and sulfur spewing into the sky, or hiking through
a rain forest, or watching the dark of night lit up by lava pouring
into the ocean or immersing myself in all the vibrant life of a corral
reef, it was an incredible thrill! I learned so much and since coming
back I continue to learn. I've been reading up on marine biology and
some of the animals that I saw and putting much thought into the
insights that I've had and how to develop them.
Without a doubt the most incredible interactions that I had were
when I was with dolphins. These are amazing animals in a variety of
ways. Their strength and grace has to be experienced to be understood.
I'm afraid that no still image is going to do them justice, but at
least it can freeze a spectacular moment that in reality passes by all
to soon. Another dimension to dolphins is their wonderful spirit. This,
coupled with their intelligence and an unmistakable feeling of
connecting sets them aside from the vast majority of animals that I've
I'm going to split my dolphin images into two sets of field notes,
one with images taken above water and one with images taken in the
water. I know that the photos are a feeble glimpse into what I
experienced, but I still want to share them. On the bright side I'm
already looking forward to returning and doing a better job.
These are spinner dolphins. I read that they are the most acrobatic
dolphins in the world. Many times when they leap out of the water they
will flip doing a somersault head over tail. But where their name comes
from is an incredible ability to leap clear of the water and spin like
a top. It is just amazing to watch. I can imagine being able to swim
fast enough to leave the water and tumble head over heals... I can do a
flip off a diving board so I can at least visualize what to do. But
leaving the water and spinning in mid air is so far outside of any
motion that I've experienced that I can only barely conceive of it.
I don't claim in the slightest to know a lot about dolphins. I can
only tell you what I felt when I was there, and that I'm getting to the
point in my life where what I feel is every bit as valid as what I
"know" in other ways. What I felt was that when wild dolphins jumped
and performed their acrobatics that it was an expression of joy. I
think it is entirely entirely possible that there was an element of
showmanship or display going on, (whether for us or other dolphins I
don't know) but these are not mutually exclusive. I definitely felt
that joy, genuinely feeling good, was a big part of the leaping that I
A couple months ago when in Bosque del Apache I felt an electric
sensation when 10,000 birds rose up together and passed over me. There
were about 100 wild dolphins swimming and leaping near us at one
and when they jumped I felt my spirit leap, and I felt joy wash over me
We talk, read, watch television and movies about the most horrific
things without a second thought, but we hardly ever discuss the most
important things in our lives. How often do we share what makes us
joyful, what makes us smile uncontrollably? What was really wonderful
on this trip was that everyone with me on the boat was feeling the same
joy and excitement as the dolphins jumped.
As we started to leave a mother and her baby swam along side of us. The
baby was little more than a third of the length of mom. There were no
other dolphins near them as they pulled up maybe 20 feet from the boat.
One of the charming things about dolphins is that they clearly have an
interest in us, just as we are fascinated by them. One of my fondest
memories of that boat trip is of that little baby, leaping again and
again, flipping head over tail, right next to us. Some experiences are
too fleeting and important to let a camera get in the way. I never even
pulled my camera up, but the image is captured in my mind. I can also
remember that as we motored on and the two dolphins peeled away I heard
someone behind me thanking the dolphins.
Charles St. Charles III
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