There are so many times that we are made aware of the special nature of dolphins, their physical beauty, their intelligence and even their spiritual nature. I am a sceptic by nature and a journalist with legal training by profession, so when I write of spirituality among dolphins it does not come from my mystical side but from strict observation. Below is a report from Mike Riggs, who observed something marvellous and not a little sad off San Onofre, California.
Last Friday night I went surfing close to San Onofre power plant. When we got there we saw dolphins jumping towards a couple of surfers down the beach. I paddled out just before sunset and a large dolphin jumped towards me. I’ve seen that a thousand times so I thought it was cool, but no big deal. When I was sitting in the water I looked back at the beach. I noticed a shiny thing a quarter mile down the beach and thought it was a dead seal. I got a wave down towards it and went in to check it out. It was a large dead dolphin, 7 ft, healthy looking (it was dead but looked well fed, no large injuries.) It looked like its stomach was out of his mouth, and his anal area had spilled out a bit. But it was fully intact, teeth, fins, everything intact. Slightly bloated.
Half hour later the tide came up high enough to bring it back down into the shorebreak a bit. A few minutes after it was bobbing in the shorebreak, 20 dolphins came in to just past where the waves were breaking. I have never seen this, but they stood still in the water, about 15 ft apart, completely stationary with just the tips of their dorsal fins barely above the surface. They stayed 15 ft apart all spaced out, completely still, ALL facing the dead dolphin on the beach/shorebreak. They remained still, facing the dead one for 5 or 6 minutes. They didn’t move, stayed evenly spaced apart, all facing in. Then they slowly went back under and slowly swam away as a group.
It truly seemed to me like they were showing respect, almost reverence for the dead one. It was like a dolphin funeral. They weren’t being aggressive or curious, they were still, concentrating on the event. It was truly moving. I spend a lot of time on the beach and in the water. I’ve seen literally thousands of dolphins, and seen them do many things. But this was different. They were concentrating on their positioning, placement, direction they were facing and each other.