On Tuesday night (Dec 30th @ 5PM) I came across a beached dolphin. A heavy fog suspended a few feet away from the shore line and a crescent Moon dropping into the foggy horizon had pulled me right up to the water's edge where I could fully emerge all my senses in this unusually beautiful scene. I was startled when I saw splashing in the shallow waters about twenty feet from the water's edge. Unless walking right along the water's edge one could not distinguish the dolphin's splashing from the waves.
It turned out that a near by beach party had a guest that worked as a dolphin trainer. Soon after he and the other guests arrived the dolphin suddenly stopped splashing at which point the former dolphin trainer approached the still dolphin. He determined that the dolphin was still alive and breathing, although, it had given over to exhaustion. A number of people from the party joined the dolphin trainer out in the water to assist with keeping the dolphin upright.
Despite everyone's efforts the dolphin died an hour and half after being discovered.
With towels the group carried the dolphin beyond the waves, where it would stay until marine rescue could take the body back to their lab to determine the cause of death. We were told that it's very rare for this species of dolphin to beach.
Emotionally this experience has lingered on my conscious. The moment I saw the dolphin I was overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility for this dolphin's suffering. I know that sounds like an over reaction but I couldn't dismiss the realization that every time I start my car, fly in an airplane, take a photo or use this laptop my actions and the collective actions of society make life more challenging for non-human species. At the time, I had hoped that our efforts to save this one dolphin would somehow make up for all of our impact on nature. However, the dolphin did not live, but if it had lived then I would have been kidding myself to believe that by saving its life I could have magically remove all the pollution from the oceans and restore depleted fisheries.
This experience has inspired me to make changes in my lifestyle for 2009 that will reduce my impact on natural systems for which we ultimately depend on for our personal health and happiness. Through these photographs and this story I hope other's will be inspired to do the same.
© Chad Kirkpatrick : Witness to Beauty ® Photography