The Dolphin Law is a mythology. It tells the story of the bonding of a woman and a dolphin mother in time of crisis. It is about a mother's love and the willingness to do whatever is needed to protect her child. It is a short story that is a gripping adventure for young children, a lesson to teens about what it means to grow up, and a call to all humans to accept our responsibility to care for our magnificent oceans and all sea life that composes three fourths of the surface of our planet. We are definitely not alone and it will take all of us to survive. The question is - Are dolphins the humans of the sea, or are humans the dolphins of the land? As the old Hawaiian greeting says, "Aloha, May we share the breath of love and welcome."
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The Dolphin Law
A Short Story
By Linda Collister
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Linda Collister and James Collister
All rights reserved.
The Grand Children Come
The shiny red sea plane made its final right turn and gently touched down on the smooth water of the bay. As it taxied up to the pier I saw two noses pressed against the window with excited smiles underneath. When the plane was tied up the door sprung open and two bright eyed boys jumped onto the pontoons and then on to the pier. They picked up their back packs and ran up the dock. My arms were barely long enough to receive their hugs but my heart was.
I stepped back and asked, "How was the flight?"
They both started talking at once. Taylor said, "We saw a whale and some dolphins. Ted, the pilot, flew real low and we could see them breathing. There was a bald eagle up in a tree that took off as we flew past. It was really awesome!"
Jared chimed in, "Ted also flew us over a wrecked ship just as we were turning for the bay. It is just sitting there on a rock reef. Can we take our kayaks and paddle out to it?"
"We just might do that. There's quite a story regarding that ship. We'll have plenty of time to talk. Are you two hungry?"
"I haven't had anything since dad put us on the plane in Los Angeles, I'm starved" said Jared. Taylor rolled his eyes, "Yea, if you don't count the 8 bags of peanuts, 2 cokes and the donuts they served us on the plane. Can we go to that café you are always talking about?"
"Sure," I said, "it's just up the street. We'll walk and then get the car and drive out to the house."
We walked into Café de Roma and sat at the counter. Marylou turned around and said, "Well you must be the grandkids your grandma's always talking about. They really are twins, how do you tell them apart?"
"It's not easy," I said. "They just flew in and are really hungry. Give them a double East Sounder with everything and two cokes. I'll just have my usual latte."
After lunch we walked to the car and took the 10 minute drive out to the house. It's set back about a quarter mile from the ocean cliffs with a great view to the straights. As we turned into the dirt road to the house we passed the mail box with a sign hanging underneath—'Loa's Loft.'
"Grandma, your name is Linda, why do you have 'Loa's Loft' on your mail box?" asked Taylor.
"That's a long story, I'll tell you all about it while you're here. Let's go inside and set up your room. Do you need to go to the bathroom? Then you two can go explore for a while."
Ten minutes later the boys were eager to go see what they could discover. I told them to be careful walking next to the cliff that is above the cove. I was sure they would find the trail down to the rocky beach. There was nothing down there that would hurt them and boys always need some rocks to throw into the water. I told them to be back by 3:00 pm but I was talking to the backs of their heads as they both ran off.
It was about 3:30 pm when they came back to the house. Their pants were still wet from running in the water. Taylor said, "Grandma you didn't tell us the beached ship was just outside your cove. Did that happen while you lived here? It must have made a real mess, we found some oily goo on some old logs at the water's edge. I have to clean my shoes.
How do I get this oil off?"
"In the kitchen is a bottle of vegetable oil. Take a paper towel, pour some oil on it and rub it against the oil on your shoes and pants. The oil will come right off."
We barbecued hotdogs over a fire in the front yard for dinner. I had made some of their favorite potato salad. Later we watched the stars and made somores—roasted marshmallows' and chocolate between graham crackers. They wanted to know more about the tanker but it was too late to start that tale now.
I told them tomorrow we would make a picnic lunch and go down to the cliff and I would tell them all about it. They were really tired as they dragged themselves off to bed.
The next morning I was frying bacon when they both appeared looking like they were ready to eat sand if that was all I had. I finished the bacon, fried some eggs and made toast. We ate and drank orange juice while they filled me in on the family. After breakfast they washed the dishes and I made up a picnic lunch. Then we headed out to the bluff over the entrance to the cove.
It was a sparkling morning. Sometimes the sun shines on the water in such a way that it looks like millions of diamonds. Today was one of those mornings. We reached the bluff and there below us was the kelp bed that acted as a break water for the cove. About a mile off the coast was the rusting hulk of the beached oil tanker.
We spread out a blanket and set up the umbrella. Over the water a bald eagle was skimming the surface and snatched up a salmon. We watched it as it flew over to its giant nest and delivered the salmon to two squawking eaglets. We watched the eagles for a while and then the boys could not stand the suspense any longer.
"OK grandma tell us the story about that tanker and why the house is named Loa's Loft."
In the Beginning
It began as all mythical adventures do with the ordinary events of the day. It was a normal evening about 2 years ago
Several miles east of the East Sound Harbor entrance and just inside the shipping lanes, Loa Longfin, dolphin lead scout, arched her back to hold the crescent shape of her bottlenose ancestors. She flicked her powerful notched tail and leapt free of the sea. Straightening her body, she soared into the air, a floating being suspended in space. For a moment in time, she watched her friend the moon cruising ahead of the clouds. Laughing, she regaled the star with a joyful whistle.
"Hello Shining Lady. Don't let those clouds catch you. It's your night to visit the sun. Your pull is strong. I feel the hugging tides." Then gracefully curving her satin torso, she disappeared into her liquid home with a farewell splash, placing her dive in the middle of the gleaming yellow moon path.
Loa loved this realm of the sea where the northern current flowed. The icy cold water sent delightful shivers across her snout and broad face. POP! POP! PING! Tiny bubbles clung to her soft skin as she relaxed into the sea. The taste is pure, she thought, remembering the evil flavors which were seeping into her water pathways. The pathways only fish know, where only sea beings travel.
As she dove, she listened for her child's signature whistle—that special individual sound of "clickakri" which identified her son Kriti. Clicking her sonar towards the shore, she spotted him playing tag with a seal. Searching further along the sandy shelf, she found nurse lagging behind her charge. Why isn't nurse beside him? Kriti is too young for the distance, for so much freedom.
Her firstborn was a beautiful silvered child with the added length on his dorsal fin marking him of the Longfin family. He was rambunctious, and so bold. She knew chasing after that adult seal was not good learning. Once again she thought he was too inquisitive for his own good. Scarring scratches or worse, angry bites could result from an encounter with the seal. He was big and strong for a three-month old and Loa worried he was allowed too much independence. He was a favorite within the family and they spoiled him terribly.
Simultaneously, her alternate scanning sonar mechanism had been tracking an oil tanker's pulse. She computed its route. Loa's dolphin brain acted as a giant complex computer allowing her to be a swimming multi-tasker. In an instant she could send and receive, track and locate, categorize and understand signals, objects and information. Her instincts screamed at her,
"Nurse, bring Kriti to me", she clicked her message through the sea space.
"Loa" ... a tube of frothing bubbles rushed past as the scout leader whistled her name, interrupting her instructions to nurse, with orders of his own.
"Close-Up Loa", he clicked sharply; "You're not paying attention. Fish are escaping from your side of the ring. It's time to eat. You can dance with the moon later."
Startled by the harsh tone of rapid clicks she quickly found her place and pushed her weight against the darting anchovies, maneuvering the metallic whirlpool into a tighter ball. She acknowledged the leader with a fin slap that said she understood the instructed action.
Worry for her son had distracted her from pod thought. The pod family functioned as a unit with group conscience as their guidance system. Fundamental to successful pod life was their co-ordination of action.
I lost the group thought. So many things are different now, so many things change with a child, she mused.
Focusing, she swam below the fish ball herding the silver mass toward the surface. There did not seem to be any moments for pleasure in these tides. This isn't fun, she thought, as she used her body like a wall to stop another stream of fleeing fish.
Loa, dolphin scout for the gray whale pod, accepted that the ways of her beloved sea were changing. She was a proud member of the honored Longfin family of bottlenose dolphin who had guided the bi-annual migration of whales stretching from the warm water birthing lagoons of Baja to the krill-loaded feeding grounds of the Bering Sea. This was a historic tradition. Fathers and mothers, babies, aunts, uncles, sister and brothers joined together to travel their ancestral route. It was reunion ... the days and nights were filled with storytelling song, family gossip and sea-news. The 12,500 mile round trip ocean journey is the longest mammal migration route on the planet. The continued success of this journey is attributed to the observational skill and courage of the Longfin family scouts as they escorted their brother gray whales along the pacific shore.
Net identification was Loa's specialty and the one reason the pod allowed her to continue as a scout escort during her season of motherhood. They needed her skills. Her instincts were infallible when it came to sounding out the killer drift nets. Many of the mammoth baleen whales had escaped sure death because of her innate ability to locate and avoid these man made death traps.
This season's passage had been perilous with the increase in the dreaded nets. Sometimes the nets drifted for miles and ran to over 200 feet deep. They frequently blocked the whales ancestral route, causing disorientation and a suffocating death to any fish or mammal caught in their web. She also had to be on the lookout for what the scouts called "Dirty" gear. These were monofilament lines baited with thousands of killing hooks attached to buoys. The tempting baited a certain death. The Longfin scouts were beginning to feel the strain of the journey, clicking gruff commands to one another.
I will be glad to see the white bay ice, she thought.
On The Way To Disaster
It was 20:13 (8:13 pm) when one long horn blast followed by three short ones bellowed through the night silence. The super tanker, Logan Star, eased out of her berth into the narrow channel that lead to the open ocean. Riding low in the water with a full load of Alaskan crude oil housed thirty feet below her waterline, the behemoth ship laboriously made the left (Port) turn toward the main harbor entrance. Rust particles floated in her wake.
An hour and a half later, the helmsman groaned with relief as his first solo at the helm in tight quarters of the narrow channel was successfully completed. He could still feel the captain's eyes watching and judging his every turn of the wheel. Automatically he reached into his pocket for a cigarette.
"Empty, damn" he muttered under his breath, "why did I quit?" The shipping lanes were dead ahead. Now, it's just a straight shot to open water he thought. He wiped his sweaty palms on his rumpled khakis.
Captain Edwards had been pacing a narrow path along the width of the bridge. The rubber soles of his company required metal-toed shoes made a soft squishing sound on the plank flooring. He was a capable mariner and had twenty years of service with the company. Previous to casting off he had conscientiously studied the British Admiralty Charts for this area. He was concerned by the news from the harbor pilot about a repositioned reef marker. The new marker was not shown on his charts.
The Logan Star was a new assignment. He had been aboard the tanker only four months and didn't want any foul ups on his record. The company didn't tolerate mistakes. Restlessly, he prowled about the bridge, keeping watch on his inexperienced helmsman as he checked the fluorescent dials and instruments.
"Chief, see anything moving out there? Have you picked up that marker buoy yet?"
"No Sir," the chief replied, "Radar screens clear, scanning 1 to 25 miles, no traffic."
The Captain put down his binoculars and called out to all on deck, "There are whales crossing the shipping lanes bearing 10 degrees off the port bow. Looks like about 2 miles. Must be at least a dozen of them. Keep an eye on them and watch out for that new reef marker."
"They'll be long gone by the time we get there. They're heading north this time of year," responded the Chief to no one in particular.
"Keep an eye out for them and that buoy anyway," ordered the Captain.
"Captain, I checked the 20:00 hourly weather fax, fair conditions, 3' to 5' seas, light breeze, 10 knots wind, with broken cloud cover," the chief-mate reported keeping his head down, fiddling with the knobs on his radar screen and sorry he hadn't mentioned the whales. The Captain was a facts only man; he wanted to hear sea traffic and marker buoy information ... not a wildlife migration report.
The red haze of the bridge's night illuminations system cast eerie shadows over the mariners. The captain relaxed for a moment and stood squarely, legs apart, feeling his ship, comforted by the roll of the sea passing under it. He stared out into the darkness as if the night held more information. The night stared back.
"Set the course 275 degrees, turns for 8 knots." he ordered, watching as the helmsman made the course correction. Slowly the giant ship's bow turned as if searching for the outbound water highway.
"Chief, go below and double-check the draft and trim calculations in the computer room for me? The shore office wants confirmation. And find out what's taking the look out so long; I sent him to escort the harbor pilot back to his launch over 10 minutes ago. How long can it take?" he asked, glaring at the ship's clock. Learning a new crew is an art and it's important to find out who you can and can't depend on.
After checking the bank of dials one more time, the captain moved to the back of the bridge. The helmsman stared straight ahead. The captain bent over the chart table, recorded the ships position and recalculated the time and distance until they entered the safety of the westbound shipping lanes. Neither sailor noticed the ominous yellow marker buoy as it passed within l0 feet of the left (port) side of the ship.
The tanker lumbered through the sea making good time at 8 knots. The diesel engines were drumming out their monotonous rhythm. She was heading just two degrees north of the offshore buoy. Fate was dead ahead. The time was 1:28.
Everyone on the Bridge was suddenly thrown forward as the ship staggered onto the rock ledge. "All Engines Reverse!!" screamed the Captain. His stomach churned as he realized they were doomed.
What Was That?
At the sudden change in noises from the ship, Loa surfaced for breath and listened for her son's return. Instead, she heard the vibration of the tanker's giant propellers jamming. The diesel engines seemed to spin out of control. A grating sound of danger vibrated through the sea. The water throbbed with a disjointed rumble as steel slashed into the reef rock, crumbling and gouging the rock outcropping. The engines stalled. In an instant the sea floor had caught the tanker.
Before the dolphin scouts turned in unison to investigate the collision, Loa's maternal instincts reacted to the threatening sound. Kriti was her only concern. In an instant her body and kinetic guidance systems, which had been perfected over millions of years of specialization, performed as a functioning masterwork. Her sleek body swam towards her son. The powerful flukes worked the water as the laminar flow of the water over her torso reached maximum speed.
"KRITI, KRITI, KRITI where are you?" She clicked, briefly breaking the surface, frantically sounding for her son. She could produce only a weak echo signal. The tanker was distorting her sonar with its clanging bells and shrieking alarms.
"Moth-er, Momm, Mummm, Clickkri clickkri." She heard the chatter of fear in his clicking signature whistle coming from the far side of the grounded tanker. Loa swiftly eliminated the sea-space between herself and the stranded vessel. Approaching the tanker's starboard side, a pressure wave suddenly erupted from beneath the hull, tossing her backwards. Like a kelp ball caught in the surf, helpless, she flopped over and over—out of control. She was blinded. She tasted oil. Her sensory systems were under attack by the noise and oil coming from the beached tanker.
Excerpted from The Dolphin Law by Linda Collister. Copyright © 2013 Linda Collister and James Collister. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Editor's Acknowledgments.................... ix
The Grand Children Come.................... 1
In the Beginning.................... 7
On The Way To Disaster.................... 13
What Was That?.................... 17
My Adventure Begins.................... 23
The Sanctuary.................... 27
Alone but not Alone.................... 29
My First Encounter.................... 37
The Search for Help.................... 41
No Help Here.................... 43
The Second Night—Desperation.................... 51
The Long Lost Dream.................... 55
The Decision.................... 63
My Calling.................... 65
The Contact is Made.................... 67
The Conversation Begins.................... 71
Regaining Consciousness.................... 73
Time for Action.................... 77
The Battle.................... 79
An Act of Trust.................... 83
Universal Mother's Love.................... 85
Help Arrives.................... 89
Return to the Pod.................... 93