Tag Archives: bottle nosed dolphins

Tales of the Southern Loop, Tavernier to Marathon, Part 4

Tales of the Southern Loop, Stuart to Boyton, Part 1

Tales of the Southern Loop, Boyton to Miami, Part 2

Tales of the Southern Loop, Miami to Tavernier, Part 3

Tales of the Southern Loop, Tavernier to Marathon, Part 4

When Ed and I awoke, it was September 7, 2020. Even though rain and low visibility lie ahead, we decided to move towards Marathon. If we remained in Tavernier, the weather would only get worse.

Today, we would be passing some of the most famous areas of the Florida Keys such as Islamorada, where a memorial stands in remembrance those who perished in the all time historic Labor Day Hurricane of September 2, 1935. The tropics were buzzing this 2020 as well as Ed and I inched southwest through the drizzle. 

Within a few hours the weather was mostly behind and a family of dolphins welcomed us to their home of Florida Bay.  Florida Bay, a magnificent body of water that for centuries has cast its spell upon multitudes. A water body that now has its fair share of ecological issues due to Florida’s extensive agriculture and development that has basically stopped the flow of fresh water from the once Everglades, “River of Grass. “

-Historic Florida map, 1884. Interacting with the bottle nosed dolphins was a fun contrast to the stressful broken-generator-scenario that had consumed us in Tavernier and put me in a really good mood. 

  1. Dolphins jumping in our wake, Florida Bay with video! 

2. Before us was beautiful…3. Behind us looked ominous…It was a spectacular trip! Six hours later we arrived at Marlin Bay Marina in Marathon.  Everything was first class. Dockhands Gilde and Frances ran out to meet us so docking was a non-issue; Barbara checked us in with a friendliness not often anymore experienced. Nonetheless, a couple of  things were clear: not that many people were there, and in public places, even outside when in public, we would be wearing a mask. Covid-19 was taken very seriously here in Monroe County especially because Hurricane Irma had wiped out their hospital in 2017. Ed and I thanked Barbara and walked out carefully into the lightning and drizzle, a hint of things to come.4. Ed checking in and standing on wall at Marlin Bay MarinaEd and I were overnighting longer in Marathon because I had a week of meetings for the South Florida Water Management District. With the Zoom format trawler lifestyle was no big deal, but having reliable wi-fi was. Marlin Bay Marina turned out to be the perfect place for everything.  All technology worked and Ed went snorkeling while I zoomed. 

When time and weather allowed, Ed and I spun around in the dingy.  We saw iguanas, darting Northern Rough Winged swallows, minnows, nurse sharks, parrot fish, loads of penguin like cormorants, American egrets, white egrets, various herons, ospreys, magnificent frigate birds, pelicans, an island rookery, and visited a place achieving “ecological sainthood,” the world famous Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital. 

5. Sea Turtle Hospital display, Marathon Ed and I took long masked walks to the Fish Market on 35th Street and beyond, taking note of the thousands of crab and lobster traps lining the streets. Of course fishing and crabbing is a longstanding Keys’ industry. Thankfully, today there is more pressure for sustainable methods. In any case, its a way of life that will not be given up. 

6. Crab and lobster traps lined the streets/lots of Marathon  7. In spite of Covid, the Fish Market and other restaurants and shops at 35th Street were busy 8. Goofing around at the Fish Market

The water in Marathon looked as healthy as anywhere we’d seen with lush seagrass beds and substantial wildlife. The only thing we noticed was that there were not many pelicans flying in formation as we regularly see along the Treasure Coast. Here, if we saw a brown pelican, it was flying alone. 

10. Dingy adventure reveals seagrass beds, rookeries, and wildlife-Lush manatee grass-Magnificent frigate birds-An invasive but cool looking iguana -Minnows eating what looked to be periphyton 

Towards the end of our stay, Ed and I  walked at least a mile along US1 to Publix. We wore our masks the whole way;  it was so hot! I felt miserable. Cars zoomed by along a busy road that could have been anywhere. It was hard to believe all of this was all once mangroves and a native wildlife habitat. I really wanted to take off my mask. But I didn’t. Ed and I knew the importance of keeping them on, plus, in Monroe County the fine for not wearing a mask was $250.00.

11. Ed walking along US 1 in Marathon  As we neared home, we saw that the clouds we’d watched building over the past few days were lending themselves to the beginnings of a beautiful sunset.  Even though we were dripping sweat, we ran as fast as we could. When we got to the marina the sky was silver but ablaze. 

“Ed! Take off your mask!” I said to Ed. “Let’s take a selfie!”

We took off our masks, came together, and smiled. I thought about the smiles on the faces of the dolphins that had greeted us and I was eternally grateful for the beauty around Ed and me. Hurricanes, pandemics, changing landscapes, and impaired waters…the world remained a beautiful place!

Pink River Dolphins of the Amazon, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Pink River Dolphin Amazon River of South America. shared Pinterest photo, Nic Bou 2013.
Pink River Dolphin, Amazon River of South America. They can be large, up to 8 feet. Shared Pinterest photo, Nic Bou 2013.

 

Today I feature an incredible and mystical creature that I just recently saw, the Pink River Dolphin of the Amazon River. This mammal does not live in our rivers, but their relations, our resident Indian River Lagoon bottle-nosed dolphins do. I think the story of the pink river dolphins is a good one to share and may make us look at our IRL bottle-nosed dolphins a bit differently.

Except for a few people, here in the U.S., we “all love dolphins.” The TV show “Flipper” indoctrinated many of us. In fact until the late 1980s we liked dolphins so much we were still capturing them from the wild to put into theme parks…. thankfully, this practice was finally stopped after the implementation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Here dolphins are “protected.”

I have alway loved dolphins, but over recent years people like Nic Mader of Dolphin Ecology Project, and Nancy Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife Tours, have helped me to appreciate these very smart and adaptable mammals even more. Many scientists believe they are as intelligent or more intelligent than humans. They live in extended families and are territorial like people.

So when I was in South America just recently with my husband Ed, who was born in Argentina, I was stuck by the story of the Pink River Dolphin of Peru and wanted to share it with you today.

Here we go….

The life of the people in the Amazon River Basin  is one that I would say none of us can comprehend as these people living along the river are totally self-sustainable. Their value is judged not by how much they “have” in material wealth, but in their ability to provide for their very close-knit families, and their ability TO ADAPT. The powerful and plentiful Amazon River can vary in water level by up to 45 feet! This means that when the river decides to change course, it can quickly erode away chunks of land and forest that are the entire size of the Town of Sewall’s Point. Gone….History….See ya!

–Giant Kapok trees and towering palms that stood only yesterday are suddenly floating down the river with your village or your lone school-house. Such is life and so it has been for thousands of years.

When this happens the people just “move back” into the jungle and adapt. They see it coming. Incredible. The river keeps you alive and it can kill you. The river gives; the river takes away.

From what I heard about 95 percent of the people’s diets, in the area we visited, are fish. They are a fishing society. But they do eat “bushmeat” from the jungle,  and other things like birds, caiman, manatee, and monkeys. “Easy to judge,” and at first it was hard for me as an animal lover to “accept this,” but then—-I get my food from Publix.

Ed and I decided we would be dead in two weeks if we had to try to live off the land like these villagers. There is no way. We are not trained to do it. We are soft.

So the people eat what they need to survive but mostly fish.

Nonetheless, according to what Ed and I were told by the locals, there is one animal they do not eat. The Pink River Dolphin.

As a local tour guide explained: “Why don’t the people eat them? They don’t eat them because superstition is stronger than the law.”

According to what we were told, the people of the Amazon River in this area of Peru believe that the Pink River Dolphin is part human, or was so years ago ….they believe or have grown up hearing stories that there are cities under the muddy waters of the river that have developed from a people who once lived along the shoreline, like them, but who decided to move into the water….they also believe if you kill a pink river dolphin you will have very bad luck, and you will not be able to find the fish that sustain your family….the dolphin which are swimming around just about everywhere, show you where the fish are. They help you.

There was one legend, in fact, where a fisherman harpooned a pink river dolphin because it got caught in his net or “stole” one of his fish. When the fisherman was magically transported to a judgement hall under the water and he saw that the dolphin he had stabbed was actually human! He was mortified. The dolphin tribunal told the fisherman he could redeem himself if he returned to the surface and told all villagers the story of the underwater dolphin city and taught the people NOT to hurt the dolphins, but to honor them.

Stories such as these told through generations have protected this species.

The guide asked me if I thought the story could be true? First I laughed, and then after a while I started to wonder. This magical species who is related to our Indian River Lagoon bottle-nosed dolphins certainly is very special. They do seem kind of human-like….

Hmmmm?

Lima is Peru’s capitol city. In Lima’s airport, there is a giant mural on the wall. I was taken by the images and thought about the story of the pink river dolphin as I got ready to fly back home. Ed was yelling at me not to be late as I snapped away thinking about this incredible story of the pink river dolphin.

I have included some of the photos below.

—-Myths….stories….how we see the world….

Even though the human-dolphin story is “just a story” from the Amazon,  I don’t think I will ever look at our bottle-nosed dolphins quite the same.  🙂

Mural Lima airport, 2015.
Mural Lima airport, 2015.The dolphin people.

Mural Lima airport, 2015.
Mural Lima airport, 2015. a mermaid or a dolphin girl?

Half dolphin half boy. Mural Lima 2015.
Half dolphin half boy. Mural Lima 2015.

Half baby half dolphin. Mural Lima, 2015.
Half baby half dolphin. Mural Lima, 2015.

Mural Lima airport, 2015.
Mural Lima airport, 2015.

Purple looking pink river dolphin, up close. Mural Lima, Peru, 2015.
Purple looking pink river dolphin, up close. Mural Lima, Peru, 2015.

Pink River Dolphin: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_river_dolphin)