What The Dolphins Taught Me
It was a glorious day; the type which lulls you into a contented slumber. The sky, reflected in the mirror-like surface of the ocean, was a beautiful shade of blue—unblemished by even a single cloud. Balmy sunlight filtered through the trees which lined the road, creating dappled patterns on my skin. As our rental car trundled down the narrow road, I let the wind whip through my outstretched hand, tracing the horizon with my finger. Somewhere between the quiet thrum of the engine and the sound of waves lapping against the shore, I began to doze off.
Just as my eyelids began to fall shut, movement in my peripheral vision caused me to stir. As I turned to pinpoint the source of the movement, I found myself stunned into silence. My brain couldn’t quite process what I was seeing; I briefly wondered if I had fallen asleep and was blissfully dreaming. Unable to form a coherent sentence, a single word had to suffice: “Look!”.
My boyfriend, who until that point had been driving peacefully, slammed on the brakes (I still maintain that this was a good test of his hazard perception). He looked over at me incredulously, but his expression quickly melted into awe when he saw what had prompted my outburst.
Just meters offshore, the unmistakable dorsal fin of a dolphin sliced through the water. More fins started to appear from beneath the waves—one, two, five, ten—until eventually, I lost count. The pod swam leisurely along the shoreline while we pulled over to get a better look. Throwing caution to the wind, I scrambled down a rocky outcrop and slid haphazardly onto the beach below. The dolphins stopped in the bay, circling around one another in an intricate dance.
I watched curiously as a lone dolphin broke away from the pod. It swam briskly away from its companions before disappearing beneath the surface with an effortless flick of its tail. Suddenly, the dolphin exploded out of the water, soaring through the air and vanishing back into the inky depths below. Soon, others began to follow. It didn’t take long until the horizon was peppered with dolphins leaping in wide arcs across the sky. By the time the sun began to dip below the skyline, a crowd had gathered on the beach. A group of strangers, united by their love of these beautiful creatures, smiled and laughed together like old friends.
While I basked in the elation which followed our encounter with the dolphins, I was surprised by a niggling feeling of unease in the pit of my stomach. After a moments thought, I realised what I was feeling: guilt.
Despite knowing how intelligent they are, how deeply complicated their social systems are, how they react with docility and curiosity when we enter their world—despite all of this, we continue to hurt them. We hunt them, spilling their blood in the name of sport. We pump pollutants into their home, lacing the water with harmful chemicals. We fill their ocean with our rubbish—and even when they manage to avoid suffocating in our gargantuan nets, we choke them on pieces of plastic so small they can’t even be seen. We trawl the oceans, destroying anything that obstructs our greedy pursuit, stripping these creatures of the food they need to survive.
Unfortunately, our utter lack of compassion isn’t restricted to dolphins. We have selfishly bled this earth dry in our relentless pursuit for more; more money, more oil, more food—and if we don’t stop, there will be nothing left to take. The oceans will be devoid of life; there will be no dolphins playing offshore, filling passing drivers with joy. There will be no forests filled with joyous birdsong; once we have stripped the land bare, the silence will be deafening. There will be no wildflower meadows, no crystalline streams, no animals in the undergrowth—there will just be us. Alone.
This world does not belong to us; it is not ours to pillage and ruin. We are guests here, nothing more than fleeting visitors. It is time to realise that we owe everything we have to the Earth; our very existence depends on it, and we need to start acting like it. If you love this planet—the meadows, the forests, the mountains, your friends, your family—then fight. Shout until your lungs burn, protest until your legs give out, campaign until something changes. The time has come to fight for the things we love.