Cape May Journal: July 15 The Dolphins

The dolphins swim south every morning here, presumably in search of breakfast. Sometimes, around the middle of the day, you can see a group cavorting off shore, apparently having found fish (or maybe just playing soccer). In the late afternoon, they head north again, probably to catch Jay Leno after the news.

Some days they are easy to spot, coming as close as 20 yards off the breakers—intelligent, slick torpedoes mocking the waves. Other times, you have to be looking carefully. I was testing my telephoto lens yesterday on a buoy marker, when a dorsal fin appeared next to it in my rangefinder, and an entire family hove into view.

The whale and dolphin watching boats often lumber by and stop, rocking like drunks, people hugging the rails. The dolphins put up with it sometimes but, ironically, there are always more dolphins when the boats are nowhere to be seen. (There is some law at work here: Heidinger’s Principle, Shroeder’s Cat, the Hawthorn Effect, something, about mere observation influencing the behavior of the observed, so that you never can really witness a natural state.)

New England Patriots fans, famously, bring signs to the games with the Miami Dolphins stating: “Squish the Fish.” Dolphins, as any third-grader knows, are not fish, but are mammals. I’m supposing that anti-mammal signs would not make sense in New England since at least half the fans would appear to be mammalian. (They are also fanatical about bringing large “Ds” and large symbolic fences to the games, cleverly holding them up to signify “de-fense.” Unfortunately, in the Superbowl, there weren’t enough “Ds” or fences in the vicinity to stop the Giants’ winning drive over an exhausted and aged Patriot defense, er, D-fence.)

In any case, I’m with those who feel that Dolphins are highly intelligent. They hunt in packs for efficiency, are careful and protective with their young, and leap out of the water at times in what has to be some kind of aquatic Olympic event. They look completely adapted to their environment, and have been known to chase off sharks.

My feeling is that all they lack are pockets, but you can’t have everything. At least I’ve never seen a group of them holding up signs saying, “Squish the Fish.”

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

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