One of many, many magnificent qualities of the sea is that it always offers beach-goers firsts. The first near-perfect conch shell washed ashore to one’s feet. The first huge great white tooth. The first starfish.
For the first time in 13 years of living in Myrtle Beach, I got to see — on Wednesday, Aug. 16 — dolphins jump completely out of the water. Repeatedly. I was combing through a huge shell bed when I noticed people looking out to sea. Turning, I saw several dolphins arching out of the water. I’m accustomed to that. Then at least two of them launched themselves above the surface, twisting in mid-air as if to take a better look at the blue world above them.
“Hey,” I shouted. “They’re doing that on purpoise.”
No I didn’t. I was too much in awe to say anything. It was spectacular and I felt privileged.
An old friend of mine, Brian, who moved from Myrtle Beach to Clearwater, Florida, once told me that he saw dolphins performing aerial stunts all the time. A bartender at a beachfront hotel here in town, he watched them frolicking in the surf through the bar’s large plate glass frontage. Brian, a great guy, had a tendency to embellish his stories a bit, so I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. I wondered: how is it that I walk the beach nearly every morning and I’ve never seen dolphins display that kind of near-shore behavior?
Well, if Brian and I still kept in touch, I’d have to apologize. Probably more than once.
I also saw a dolphin doing something else that I’d never witnessed before. One of them seemed to be skimming across the water’s surface as opposed to making the typical arching movement that we’re all use to seeing. It’s dorsal fin knifed through the surf. I almost mistook it for a shark – until I saw it’s snout.
Several years ago, I watched as three or more dolphins formed a line and swam straight toward the beach. At the time, I thought they were riding the waves. Playing, essentially. I’ve learned since then that they were most likely forcing fish into more shallow water so the fish would be easier to corral.
If anyone has any insight into the behavior that I’ve described, please contact me. My home phone is 843-213-0219.
Now I’m off to the beach to wait for another “first.” No sense in rushing things. The ocean measures time in eons.