As humans, I get it that we’ve got it pretty good. But whenever I see dolphins in the wild, like these spotted Atlantic dolphins that were riding our bow off Bimini in the Bahamas, I find myself kind of wishing reincarnation is real.
This pod included a few sprightly juveniles – apparently they usually do in Bimini, which is famous for its resident dolphins. And I don’t think there’s anything more adorable than a baby dolphin. They’d venture brazenly under the bow of the boat, zip around at a frenetic pace then rejoin their elders near the stern as if to say, “Did you see me, did you see that?” I didn’t get to get in with the animals, but it was a pleasure (okay, and torture, too) watching Olympic gold medalist swimmer Missy Franklin and Paralympian gold medalist Mallory Weggemann, two phenomenal swimmers who were there filming the documentary The Current, free dive with the animals.
I did have the privilege of swimming with dolphins once, near the Poor Knights Islands of New Zealand. There, on the way back to the marina after some killer dives through underwater archways, we encountered a pod of bottlenose dolphins that must’ve rolled hundreds deep. The captain stopped the boat and let us free dive with them. “Dive down and make a lot of movements, they’ll come to you,” he’d said. And they did. Later, at a campsite, I met a Maori girl who told me she’d had a similar encounter one time, too. She’d dived down deep and gotten so wrapped up in the moment, she lost track of her breath hold. She realized she was out of air and was about to inhale a lungful of water before she could make it back to the surface. “It’s like the dolphins knew I was in trouble,” she’d told me. Several of them spiraled around her like a mini tornado, whisking her up just in time.