The Day the Dolphin Laughed At Me

The oil spill in the Gulf upsets me, though I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes I forget. Living in So Cal, I don’t see daily reminders of the devastation down there. But when I flip on the TV or seek out updates online, I’m reminded of the awfulness of the situation and how the people living on the gulf coast don’t have the luxury of forgetting about their oil-slicked shores.

After seeing some particularly disgusting images, I couldn’t help but think of the time I went to San Diego for a week when I was eight. It was pretty much the only family vacation I ever remember going on where we stayed overnight and it featured my first trip to SeaWorld.

On a side note, when I asked my dad what the difference was between a motel and hotel he said that a motel was nicer and that’s why we were staying in one. ::grin:: Ah, parental white lies.

Most of the trip is lost to wispy memory now, but I do recall a few vivid details. For instance, I was dressed identical to my mother: over-sized sunglasses, black tank top and white bicycle shorts with black flowers–hey, don’t judge.

But what stands out the most from that day was the moment we approached the dolphin tank. There was a round tank in the middle of the walkway. I believe it was connected underground to a larger tank (at least I hope it was!) and you could walk up very close and see dolphins swimming around. I was fascinated by their shiny skin and graceful tails swishing.

Dolphins can laugh, right?

Then, out of nowhere, a dolphin emerged from the water. He (I say he because his actions befitted a little boy’s playground antics) turned to one side with his head out of the water. One fin extended up as if to wave. Then he slammed it down onto the water’s surface, sending a huge wave right onto my small frame. I was soaked. And before the dolphin plunged back into the water, he paused, looked at me with those black glassy eyes and laughed.

I’m dead serious. That dolphin laughed at me.

He thought splashing me was pretty damn funny and because of his bold attitude I never forgot him.

So what on earth does this memory have to do with the oil spill to end all oil spills? Sorry people, this is about to get serious.

To say I was greatly upset when I saw images of dead dolphins floating to the water’s surface in the Gulf, and a man carrying a baby dolphin out of the foam, only to learn it died later, would be an understatement. Photos that don’t seem to make it to the nightly news of animal carcasses and workers covered in oil also disturb.

I don’t know how people can go from day to day without acknowledging this issue. Or act as if it’s not a big deal. “Oh so some sea life dies, so what? We’ll be okay.” Where does this sort of passivity come from? Is it a natural reaction when faced with issues that are too big to comprehend? Or does it stem from the seemingly acceptable apathy that runs rampant in our society?

People that don’t at least want to clean off pelicans, sea turtles or even those poor dolphins, dumbfound me. What kind of people are these? If I had money, I’d like to think that I’d attempt to go down there and try to do something (despite BP’s desperate attempts to prevent anything from getting done).

I can understand people feeling powerless, but those who don’t care at all baffle me.

But maybe I’m just biased. I mean, a dolphin pretty much made fun of me once. How many people can say that? In my opinion, a creature capable of that sort of tomfoolery doesn’t deserve such a devastating fate. Nor do any of those sea mammal’s fishy friends. Pardon me if that’s hippie dippie, but it’s true.

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