19th of March 2020, The memory of this day will stay with me forever.
The whole world was in a panic mode, shaking in fear and uncertainty under the shadows of the dark clouds that the Coronavirus had brought over us. People on the street were looking at each other with suspicious eyes, keeping their distance… if someone sneezed or coughed in a public place they were treated like a criminal. You could feel the tension everywhere around you.
Just like every morning, I wanted to start my day with a morning exercise at the beach. When I got there, I realized it wasn’t a normal day. The waves were pumping and massive sets were rolling into the bay. The 6-7 ft waves were barreling and breaking in the offshore wind. The sound of the waves was like a cannon explosion.
In a couple of minutes, all of my exercise plans went out the window. It took me a while to find a safe place to jump in. Tamarama Beach can be quite challenging during a bigger swell. It’s a very small beach and the rip is very strong and even a good swimmer could end up in a sketchy place very quickly.
After swimming out, I was overwhelmed by the size of the waves, especially because I chose to shoot with a fisheye lens. With this lens, I needed to be right in the impact zone to capture decent images. After getting smashed by the waves about a dozen of times, I started to regret my decision about this lens. This regret changed suddenly when one of the surfers yelled ”DOLPHINS COMING IN”!
I looked around excited and I saw the flying dolphins in front of me, they were heading towards Bronte Beach (which is the next door beach about 600m from Tamarama). I was too close to the shore so I started swimming away from it, towards the deeper water. To my amazement, the dolphins turned back and surrounded me. They didn’t care about social distancing, they came right next to me. They looked into my eyes clicking, smiling. We were swimming for around 20 minutes up and down between the two beaches while the whole pod (around 20-25 dolphins) stayed with me turning, twisting & whistling in the sunshine.
Words can’t describe how I felt in that moment. I remember this feeling was so intense that I had to stop shooting and instead I lied on my back. There I was floating on my back and laughing whilst they were circling around me. It was like a fairy tale.
There are very few things in life that can be as beautiful as a large, wild animal looking into your eyes and smiling at you from a very short distance.
Dolphins are very intelligent animals, they have their individual character traits, their mood and emotions change just like we humans experience it. Many countries consider dolphins as non-human person.
When they are in a “playing mood” they are very curious and seek connection. You can feel they want to communicate with you. They want to know who you are. It is pure magic when this happens.
When we humans meet a stranger, we usually keep some distance until we know the other person’s real intentions. This person could be the most loving kind you have ever met but you will still need some time to trust them fully and open completely. Unlike humans, when you connect with a dolphin you can be sure about their pure intention. There is no agenda. There is no need for a protective shield.
On that day, I’m sure they came to show us there is hope. There are so many beautiful and positive things in life. Somehow many of us forget to see them.
Due to the pandemic, the next day all the beaches were closed which brought even more suffering to every ocean lover’s life. The visit of these “Angels”, gave me enough positive vibe to get me through the following few very hard months.
I want to believe that there is a lesson to be learned behind every struggle. I hope the lesson we can learn from this pandemic is to open our eyes to how disconnected we have become from nature and our surroundings. I hope once it’s all over and everyone can travel wherever they want, we can start appreciating and caring for our planet in a way that she deserves.