Save an hour of foraging Dusty plays through the day. With the swimmers she is usually very patient, with canoes she can rather accelerate and with speedboats and jet ski's she goes helter-skelter.
These games vary from being patted in knee deep water to jumping out of the water in full speed. Some people bring toys, like the bottles tied together as mentioned before, others bring toys for themselves, like 'budgy-boards', a kind of floater to support the upper part of the body, propelled by the legs.
Especially the latter are highly appreciated by the dolphin. Last year I saw before my very eyes how, as with a sailors practice, she wound the rope of Caroline's budgy-board in a bowline around her beak and Mildred found hers a few kilometers away, rammed between the rocks.
Two years ago I extensively let her swim with the waterwing (DA 8 and next, 2002). At first she stayed around and gave me a wonderful view on her resourcefulness. But later she swam ever further out with it and I had to swim into sweat to retrieve it.
When Verena and I swam back from Pollenawatch we were almost traditionally accompanied by Dusty. We took several video's of Dusty and one of us two, of which later only two could stand up to our scrutiny. On a given moment, not far from Bridie's Beach, we changed of camera wing. The other wing floated unattended for only a few seconds, but that was enough for Dusty. With an incredible speed she rose with bent back almost totally out of the water. She took the wing upon her beak and pushed it with her forehead. Verena gave a cry that echoed in my head.
With the courage of despair I started the pursuit. After less than 20 meters of swimming I saw the wing float on the surface. No Dusty. Under water, a meter under the wing, I saw her hanging, motionless. I expected her to snatch it away from my fingers at the last moment, but when I came closer she was still in the same position: vertically, with the pectoral fins close to her body and the head a little to the side.
She kept hanging like a mummy until I reached the wing and took it. I had the feeling that she meekly admitted to have been naughty and tried to make up by giving it back. I gratefully accepted the wing and after that she swam along without further paying any attention to the wing.
A lot of Dusty's behavior can be interpreted as prey oriented. Like approaching the swimmers usually from the rear. Also the stealing of camera's and budgy-boards seems to fall into this category. Contrary she brought Verena as well as me a large salmon. Maybe we are just a little bit like family.