My family put their first sailboat in the water when I was 9 years old. From that day forward we basically lived at the beach....well, actually it wasn't "at the beach" as we were mostly "on the water". This not only included most weekends but also week-day evenings during the summer. Anyone who has spent "some" time on the water has experienced Dolphins. They are friendly, playful creatures of the sea and will happily provide entertainment for idle boaters.
The wind and tides were right for my sister and I to sail across the bay to a beach frequented by fishermen. We pulled our 14' sunfish ashore and decided to stretch our legs with a short walk along beach. When we rounded one point on the shore we noticed a pod of dolphins frantically whistling very close to shore. Since dolphins seldom come that close to shore we were immediately curious. As we walked farther we began to hear an answering cry. Rounding the next point we saw a dolphin laying in the sand above the waterline on the beach. When we got to him, it was obvious that he had been there for some time. His skin was dried and beginning to peel, a fishing line covered with dried blood hung from his mouth, and the imprints in the sand told the rest of the story. After they caught him, the fishermen had dragged him far out of the water to die. Since the dolphin had not died immediately like a normal "fish", they had lost interest and left him.
My sister and I tried to administer first aid....we hauled water in sea shells and poured it over the dolphin's parched skin. The few people we could find on the beach would not help us "kids" put a fish back in the water. "Besides, he couldn't eat with that line hanging from his mouth anyway," one beach walker said, "he would just die anyway." Watching the interaction between the stranded dolphin on the beach and the pod, his family, swimming dangerously close to the shallow waters.......it broke my heart and furthered my conviction that these were intelligent animals. We had to leave the dolphin on the shore to die.....something I still regret to this day.
A few years later I had the opportunity to write a ten-paged research paper on any subject. I wrote a 40-paged research paper and have now placed much of it here for others to read. While the research is old (30+ years) I think it provides a valid foundation for my convictions. I'm also happy to say that during the past 30 years public awareness has changed and the general public no longer considers a dolphin to be just another "fish".
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