Playing with fire

Dolphin Danger Angry Another great trip today – with ~23 minutes of video recorded. We found a large group of adult and subadult males and females socializing by Subarune. They were hanging around a large patch of seaweed, going down for the occasional rub. At one point, one of the large males in the group became quite agitated – though he didn’t appear to be disturbed by the presence of the tourists in the water. It looked more like an internal dolphin disagreement. He began jaw-clapping (banging his jaws/teeth together to make a loud ‘pop’ sound), and chasing some of the other dolphins. One of the enthusiastic tourists decided that this was the perfect time to swim in for a closer inspection. Madness! The adult male began jaw-clapping in rapid succession at the tourist, but the tourist was thoroughly oblivious to the aggressive nature of this behavior and began swimming closer and closer. I tried waving my hands as some kind of feeble warning, but I was too far away for anyone to see. Luckily the dolphin swam away and chased after some other dolphins and the tourist was unharmed. Dolphins rarely physically assault humans in the wild, but if they were ever going to, it would have been at a time like this! Often times it is so exciting being in the water with dolphins (especially if it is your first time), that you forget that you are in the presence of unpredictable and wild animals. Being able to read the subtle (and not so subtle in the case of jaw-claps) behavior of dolphins can mean the difference between a fun encounter and getting chased out of the water. The captains and dolphin guides here on Mikura do their best to instruct people on how to safely swim with the Mikura dolphins, but it is easy to forget what you have learned once the thrill of being surrounded by 30 dolphins takes hold of you! Luckily today, disaster was averted! I’ve included a pic of the tourist making her fateful dash toward the angry dolphin. Oh boy!