Posted by: abea7037 | September 22, 2011

Dolphin Tale?


I recently saw a preview for the upcoming Dolphin Tale movie. I couldn’t help but be skeptical of its charm, especially after viewing The Cove. I did a little research and found that this movie is in fact based on a true story though. Allegedly, a dolphin washed up on the shore on the cost of Florida and was taken in by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The dolphin, named Winter, loses its tail as a result of being caught in a crab trap. The members of the aquarium work to develop a prosthetic appendage for Winter in order to release it back into the wild. I am sure the story, in Hollywood fashion, is dramatic in its representations of actual occurrences, and I am quite sure that the producers intend to appeal to human emotion by developing this “tale” as a heart warming story. That’s not all bad, I suppose. I think it will show that humans can help try to fix something that is obviously our fault. I’ll probably go see this movie with my girlfriend and I’ll probably enjoy it. I generally appreciate movies of this kind. But something is to be said about experiencing nature in person, viewing these creatures in the wild, in their natural habitat, outside a tank and off a movie screen.

On September 14th, I ventured out to the jetties at Mayport to sit on the docks by the boat ramp. It was cool and windy. The water level was higher than usual, so high that you couldn’t dangle your feet of the end of the dock without getting them soaked! I watched a large sea crane, pulled by a tug boat, drift slowly by. As I watched the ships pass, I caught a glimpse of two porpoises roll out of the water. I decided to pull out my phone to see if I could get some footage of them. To my surprise, more and more fins popped up around the dock. They circled around the entire time I was there. It was the first time I had seen porpoises here at such a close range. I was amazed, excited, in awe of these animals that were simply running a school of fish. I had not gone out that day expecting to see anything but seagulls and pelicans. Maybe a fish would jump and it would make my day. This was incredible though.

How I felt watching those porpoises from the dock made me think about why people go to Sea World, Marine Land or any aquarium. They go to get an up close and personal experience with these creatures. It’s just interesting, fascinating, even thoroughly enjoyable for some. Perhaps this is part of the problem. We as humans desire so greatly at times to see the spectacle that is nature, especially in relation to creatures of the sea, that we will go to extraordinary lengths to do so. We drive hundreds of miles and pay hundreds of dollars to view a man made tank full of captive creatures. We may do it out of respect and awe and a general appreciation for them, but a majority of people, I would say, have never seen The Cove and do not understand how these animals are so stressed out in their tanks that they need antacids.  I would much rather see dolphins in the wild than at Sea World, but I admit that I often feel, or have felt, that these creatures are not readily accessible in the wild. They are elusive or hard to spot, even harder to get up close too. But maybe that’s the idea. That’s what makes it so exciting and refreshing to see and experience. I think humans have cheapened the spectacle that is the natural world, often, too often, for corporate gains: monetary profit. That day on the docks of Mayport was the most excited I’ve ever been seeing sea creatures though, and I didn’t have to pay a dime.




  1. When I was researching about Elizabeth Starke and her involvement in Girl Scouts, I found a brochure from the early 1900’s that mentioned fishing for dolphins. I hadn’t known that dolphins are in the St. Johns River and my stomach lurched. For the Environmental Oral History class last fall, we went on a boat tour with the River Keeper and it was my first time seeing a dolphin in the wild.

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