From our fifth storey condominium apartment overlooking the sound we can frequently see the dolphins nearby. Of course one doesn’t catch much more than a dorsal fin but it’s enough to fuel a fascination with what is going on underwater. There are common features about their appearance. There are invariably at least two of them. This morning we spied about six within the same general area. They travel in the same direction. Sometimes they submerge and surface within seconds; at other times, they disappear for an extraordinarily long time, only to surface further along the shore in synchronization. It creates the spectacle of a performance. One wonders whether they orchestrate their movements or can it be only an accident of nature? While one is tempted to say they are playing, no doubt their occupation is strictly utilitarian (though they do enjoy a reputation for being highly social). For some reason they spend their time surprisingly close to the shore rather than in the middle of the sound where I would have thought the deeper waters would have more attraction.
Given their reputed intelligence one marvels at the ability of the dolphins to amuse themselves with no particular diversion. I can’t imagine they are under any threat of predators in the sound. Apparently their days are spent in search of food. What they do at night I cannot guess. Nor have I any idea what happens when one of them dies. Do they go somewhere special for that? Is there a routine for the ceremony of dying?
Their glistening rubbery skin must afford considerable insulation. For the past four years we have visited Hilton Head Island during the height of winter and we have always seen dolphins. From what I know about the Atlantic Ocean at these latitudes it is never really warm, much less so at this time of year. If the dolphins were to undertake a winter migration it would no doubt be fraught with some duress and exposure. Perhaps they could swim just a bit southward to the Florida coast? It can’t be that demanding.
What is more demanding from my perspective is the relentless commitment to mere survival. I suppose on some level that engrossment is not unknown to humanity. If the need were compelling then likely the absorption is less than tedious. It certainly makes one appreciate the privilege of idleness as diabolical as the state is sometimes reputed to be.
In this park-like setting that is Hilton Head Island it is impossible not to marvel at the genetics of the plants and animals which are so prolific. Everything from alligators to black ducks to huge fronds and sea grasses, all magically developed and reproduced to specification. This bounty is echoed in the sea and almost religiously displayed in the menus of local restaurants.
This is what comes of staring out the window on a rainy day, watching the dolphins.