Because Dusty more and more swims with boats, it’s getting also harder to draw her attention. The easiest way for this is to take along toys, although actually this is ‘verboten’ by Ute. One of Dusty’s most favourite toys are two bottles, each half-filled with water and strung together. After this ‘Two bottle island’ in the ‘Boat house bay’ was named. These she ‘catches’ with her beak, pectoral or dorsal fins by the rope in between and speeds through the water with them. If you throw them away she goes after them and sometimes brings them back, but she clearly demonstrates it is her toy.
The trick is to excite her curiosity. A few weeks ago someone again had linked two bottles. I took them along to the seabed and shoved one under the anchor chain of a mooring rope. She did not get tired from watching it until I loosened them again.
Like this there are more. Particularly toys that address a property of water draw her attention. Yesterday I had fastened my video housing to a mooring rope with my plastic handcuff. One of the Dublin Johns told me Dusty had coaxed him to the buoy to show him the camera.
What also works well I have mentioned before. Some of the mooring ropes are fastened to the bottom by chains. If you rattle these and she does not show up within a minute you can assume she is not around.
Blowing ringbubbles is not easy as the water is always moving. Therefore I am contemplating the construction of a snorkel with which you can blow ring bubbles.
I am not so fond of toys myself. They come between you and the dolphin and interfere with the direct, personal communication. Therefore I seek her attention by way of body language. These are specific manoeuvres that somehow are out of the ordinary. Thus, for example, I make a screw dive to the bottom or swim under water on my side or my back. Also when I push myself around by means of the waterwing, swim a good length across the seabed or hold myself down by a kelp stem or an anchor chain, she comes to inspect the situation.
An old trick is the clicking together of two stones. This works best if you dive for two stones and click them together in a steady rhythm, preferably near to the bottom so the sound carries farther. This way in time she will recognise your ‘sound signature’. And if she’s in the mood for it, she lies on her back, closes her eyes and lets herself be spoilt by a sea lace massage.
Yesterday my camera switched from video to microphone all the time and while I was tampering with it, I suddenly noticed she was watching this over my shoulder.
A fisherman from Quilty told me that she often meets him at Spanish Point and demands his attention. If she does not get it, she tries to splash water over him. In this way I also have drawn her attention by ignoring her when I pretended to look at the sea bed.
Mostly when I am about to leave the water she crosses my path as if to say ‘Stay a little bit longer’. Often, by swimming towards the beach this works in drawing her attention.
If she’s not in the bay there is nothing much more to do than wait, but if this takes too long, I just go into the water for a nice swim. Usually I go far beyond the corner as the sounds I make there carry farther and also try to draw her attention with deep dives.
But all this is futile if there’s a boat in the vicinity. Recently it has even been so, that when no boat is moored in the bay, she leaves again within five minutes. By the time you’re in the water it’s too late again. It is to be hoped that the coming winter will wipe her slate clean and she will aim her attention at swimmers again or Dusty will soon be a legend.