It may have had something to do with my daughters birthday, Anne Linde, because in all my life I have never seen so many dolphins together as last Saturday, August 21st.
It was 7.30 a.m., I had just made us a mug of tea, when I thoughtfully slobbered my Earl Grey. My eyes dreamed as so often over the rippling sea and were drawn towards unusual white water. This was cut through by the curve of a dorsal fin, directly followed by a second one. A heaven in my head lit up and immediately I sped to Verena: 'Dolphins out there!'
We snatched our binoculars and saw them everywhere. A group of over 40 dolphins was fishing, 50 to 150 meters away from the meadow, over a width of about 600 meters.
The word 'whale' stems from Norwegian and literally means 'wheelfish'. Sometimes they turn in synchronized two- or threesomes, but also they roll in groups of 7 to 8 just after another on the surface. At times we only saw the dorsal fin, but often the animals came half out of the water and let their fluke glide elegantly after them through the air. There were several young animals that jumped out of the water until their fluke and fell down backwards, their white bellies lighting up in the sun.
Until a quarter to eleven we sat comfortably nested on a rock and enjoyed this feast. Equipped with sunglasses, binoculars, cameras, a dictaphone and a packet of 'midgarets', cigarettes to at least keep the midgets at a distance. Unfortunately the photographs and video's are only a very weak representation of what we saw happening.
To judge by the size there were not many adult males. Often we saw mothers with at their side, like a lighter inverted shadow, a young. These were relatively often at the surface, probably because their young could not stay under water too long. The elder dolphins have a darker color, possibly because of the etching of seawater. Every now and then one, and more often two dolphins jumped out of the water, sometimes like a posy of flowers, parting.
To me the spectacle looked somewhat like a field of cornflowers and Verena compared it with boiling water. This made me think of the description the Bible gives for the 'Leviathan': 'He makes the water boil like a pot'.
The initial chaos began to distinguish itself into groups and activities. We saw five- and sixsomes swim in one line. Then, as if on command, they turned 90 degrees and dived down side by side. Thus they must drive the fish together and catch them, for a little while later they emerged, scattered around.
In the beginning there was a lot of white water. Then it became quieter and everywhere we saw dorsal fins cruising. Finally they celebrated the catch with lots of jumps and romps that made the sea froth. We often could hear them breathing from the shore.
An hour later, when we were relishing over our breakfast, a group of approximately 11 dolphins came around the Corner and swam close past the meadow. We figured them going towards the Aran islands but only when they had just passed us, they turned and went the same way back. Also we saw a grey seal just in front of the meadow. Maybe he came for the fish that had escaped the dolphins.
Later, about 7 p.m., we drove over the coast road along Pollenawatch, about 30 meters above sea level. Suddenly Verena saw again a group of about 20 dolphins. We had a fantastic overview and could follow the trajectory of the dolphins very clearly. We also saw a pair of swimmers that fruitlessly tried to come closer to the animals. Dusty was clearly discernable. She swam up and down, close to the rocks. Obviously she did not dare to join the group, a cast-out, balancing between wanting and daring. A loner, who prefers fleeting contacts over a fixed place in the social structure of her kind. And yet we felt so lonely for her. When the dolphins left she joined the swimmers again.
While we, hanging over a gate, watched all this through our binoculars, we were, again, practically eaten by midgets. Over the whole day we stoked a complete packet of John Players. Hours later we were still scratching and midgets crept out of the folds in my forehead.
Mick, of M&M, Michael and Mary, the shop owners, told us the next day, that the night before had been extraordinarily good for fishing. Bet the seal would agree.