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Beneath the Waves Encounters

True Accounts of Experiences with Acquatic Friends


The Story of Trusty
by Sheoli Makara

 One of the things Awakening In Paradise Retreats is known for is our safety record. To date, there have been no injuries taking groups on our aqua adventures, thankfully.

At this particular retreat, as usual, I had matched swim assistants up with guests who needed them and had everyone else buddied up for safety. One of my swim assistants, Celeste is very good with non swimmers or those who's fear of the water exceeded their enjoyment of it. Celeste was solely responsible for Connie. Connie was not a swimmer, didn’t like the water and had never been in water above her knees in her life. She was however, willing to move passed her fears and venture into the liquid blue to see the dolphins.

The retreat group, with accompanying swim assistants went out into a nearby bay where the dolphins had just come into. The group was pretty much staying contained, with Celeste and Connie trailing a short distance behind. As is my practice when taking a group into the bays, I keep close watch over everyone.

After about 20 minutes in the water, I noticed Celeste began moving slowly away from Connie. I also noticed that a dolphin was moving with Celeste, unusually close. I immediately swam over to Connie in a matter of seconds. Connie was wearing a life jacket and holding onto a boogie board. Her face was down in the water and when I tapped her on the shoulder to get her to raise her head, she had a huge smile on her face and pointed down into the water. I looked down and just beneath her was a pod of six dolphins. These dolphins had taken Celeste’s place as Connie’s swim assistants. Connie was simply floating and the dolphins held their place beneath her.

Celeste meanwhile, was holding a juvenile dolphin up at the water’s surface by letting it rest its belly on her outstretched arms. The dolphin was panting heavily, catching its breath as it were. This little dolphin swam into fishing line, one of the greatest threats to marine wildlife. The thick line was rapped around his fluke, cutting into the dolphin's skin. Blood was coming out of the deeper wounds and by the looks of it, this dolphin was in a great deal of pain. This little dolphin could no longer move his tail to swim.

With Connie in tow, I swam back to the group who curiously watched this dolphin and Celeste as they swam in tandem. I told the group what was happening and asked them to kindly stay where they were and quietly observe. They gladly complied. I then asked two of the swim assistants to slowly approach Celeste and the dolphin to see if they could free the dolphin from the fishing line. While Celeste continued to hold the dolphin, the two swim assistants began their task. They worked carefully where the line had cut into the dolphin's skin. Without benefit of scissors or knives, the swim assistants used their teeth to cut through he thick fishing line.

The little dolphin began to calm down. He seemed to understand that he was receiving the help that he had sought out. Just below where he was being administered to, were a pod of six dolphins who each took turns looking up, swimming on their sides to watch as the injured dolphin received help from their human friends.

After about 15 minutes, the dolphin began to move his tale and realized he could swim free. He dove down to join his awaiting family who surrounded him and they slowly swam on.

Celeste said that this dolphin looked like he used all his strength to swim up to her throw his body toward her. She instinctively knew what to do...she simply held him so he could catch his breath. We don’t know how long he had been struggling with the fishing line. Certainly long enough to have much of it imbedded into his skin. This smart little guy knew that we humans could help him. He took a leap of faith to save his life .
Photos of Trusty, March - June, 2003.


I named this dolphin “Trusty” as he is still known as today. It is easy to spot him even though he is fully grown now. He has cut marks and scars specific to his ordeal when he was a youngster.

Trusty has grown into a large, viral male who enjoys playing leaf with his human and dolphin friends alike. Even years after his near death experience, he still comes up to Celeste and I, one at a time, pauses and looks deeply into our eyes. He clearly remembers his human friends who helped him when he was in dire need. We remain ever grateful that we were there that day, to save a dolphin's life and then over the years watch as he grew up and is now thriving.

It is so true that giving help to those in need offers the greatest reward.

Copywrite: Sheoli Makara, 2000

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