Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mammals In Their Habitats

Today there was an accident on the long bridge I traverse home from work and I found all traffic stopped, so I pulled over on the embankment approaching it to wait for things to clear. As I sat on a Jersey barrier facing the bay, a pod of dolphins swam by me more than several times. I was able to lean over and see one, at times less than ten feet away. Once, he swam by very slowly on his side and we shared about ten seconds of eye contact, the exchange distinct enough for me to know that we were engaged in a clear but very subtle and intuitive gesture of non-hostility.
As the dolphins lollygagged about the surface I noticed that they all had deep crevices which ran along their bodies and gouged their fins. It made me sad to think that I was looking at animals which bore the scars of their proximity to humans. They were so intent on play that it was hard to imagine their finding time to forage and hunt. I didn’t think they should have to worry about anything else.
The dolphins went on to address more pressing matters and the traffic dispersed while I stepped back to my car. As drivers we filed past ambulances, fire trucks and a long, sleek white sheet pulled over a body.
Squinting into the sun I found myself wondering if that dolphin was empathizing.

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