Dolphin Encounter in the Keys, Part Two
Art by Norma Jean Zahner

Two decades ago I took my stepdaughter to the Keys as a graduation gift.  It was hotter-than-heck-and-half-of-Georgia, but we made the best of it.  Swimming with wild dolphins was our reward.  Cost a king’s ransom, but worth every penny…we hoped.  So off we went.

Dolly was the pod leader.  She led her two companions into our pool to check out a dozen two-leggers thrashing about in the cove.  The dolphin’s incentive to visit was fish kibbles down the road.  But there was no confinement.  They came and went as they pleased from pool to ocean.

 The curious thing about the cove water was that it was super-salty. That meant humans bobbed like corks.  Diving was virtually impossible if you had a well-padded derriere, which alas, I did.  Gives new meaning to bottoms-up.

We were instructed not to touch, attempt to ride, or disturb the leviathans (they are much larger than you realize)…rather let them come to us…which, of course, they didn’t.  Sigh.  All that money for a bob in the brink while Dolly dissed us.

But my husband had bought an extra half hour with the dolphins just for us.  When the others left, the handlers gave us a long PVC pole.  We were instructed to hold it a few feet under water, which was a challenge for my boomeranging behind.  We held our collective breath and waited…and waited.  Then, literally out of the blue, Dolly rocketed over the pole, followed in seconds by the other two.  We were spun around in their wake, screaming, crying, adrenalin pumping, quickly sinking our pole for another pass. We weren’t disappointed.

The next 25 minutes came close to being the best of our lives, well, mine anyway. 

I recently asked my stepdaughter if it were as powerful an experience for her. 

She replied, “Well, Donna, I enjoyed it, but what I remember most was the weenie-eating Ibis and that unbelievably endowed squirrel we saw at our campsite.”