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9.11.2004

Dolphins in Dingle

Today was our rest day. We're in Cloghane, on the Dingle Peninsula, resting up after hiking more than 50 miles over the last four days. Summiting Mt. Brandon on a rare, sunny 80 degree day and, yesterday, mucking our way down the side of a mountain in what must be the world's only vertical bog.

But more on that later.

Today we were to Rest. And I was sitting in the sun room at the excellent Mt. Brandon Hostel when Karelia, one of the managers, walked in and asked "do you want to see a dolphin?"

There were three in the harbor here, a very rare thing. Two were swimming safely in deep water, but the third--a young one from what I was told--had gotten caught on the shore in a tangle of seaweed. It was blowing and lurching, obviously panicked. I went and told Harper, who was using the Internet, and then walked out to see.

The owner of the hostel was already on the beach beside it. They had called for a boat to come rescue it, but it would have to come all the way from Dingle, around the Peninsula on the south side.

"Should we wade out and try to move it?"

"I think so, yes."

So the two of us stripped down to our underwear and waded out in the water, we pulled the seaweed from him and pushed and pulled on him, turning him around. He immediately swam back in again, so we--now joined by Harper, Karelia, and a young girl from Cloghane--tried again. This time he went. Slowly.

He labored back in again, farther down the beach, but as he approached the shore, he turned and headed out. He did this twice more. Twenty minutes or so in all. But eventually, he went to the middle of the harbor, where it appeared that another one joined him, and the last we saw, they looked to be headed to sea.

Swim, flipper, swim.

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