Where This Meets That
Here enjoying a few days at Fort Walton Beach, Florida with my family, and last night provided a new beach highlight for me.
From our balcony the first morning we were here, we saw a few dolphins intermittently surfacing beyond the breakers. Late yesterday afternoon, as I was making my way out to a sandbar with my sons, my wife called out to me from the shore to caution me about seeing fins where we were heading. We immediately headed back to shore to identify those fins as friendly or foe.
They seemed to swim like dolphins, and we assumed they were, but what good are assumptions that might mask hungry sharks? Within minutes, a white plume from one of their blowholes confirmed they were dolphins, so we headed back out in pursuit.
After our attempts to reach them left us only watching them surface further down the beach, we returned to shore. Suddenly, however, we saw them closer again, and I went out alone for one more go.
As I approached, I counted three, each about eight feet long, and all tumbling together playfully.
Before I knew it, only a wave’s crest separated me from them. When that wave passed, it carried away with it my naive, romanticized childhood notions of “Flipper” and left me alone with three formidably large creatures beneath the evening water before me.
So very close.
So close, in fact, that I had to wonder if, after all that, I’d managed to sneak up on them. Surely not; this was their domain. But how would these wild, “un-tanked” dolphins receive me without a fistful of dead shad procured from some Sea World kiosk? And if they were as friendly as reputed, they still equaled a ton of aquatic muscle. Even an accidental, well-intended fluke to my face could have left me flat-faced and foundering.
Fortunately, nothing of the sort happened. They swam around me, one rolling on his side under water to show me his belly he passed. I slapped the water, clapped and whistled like a stupid human trying to communicate that I wanted to play. We never exchanged touches over the ten or so minutes I was among them, but thrice I was within five feet of them and left in awe.
Very, very cool experience and one I won’t soon forget!