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Dancing with dophins

Noting the current civil unrest in Sydney - which has been downright ugly - Dom sent along this letter to the editor about Maroubra, three beaches down from where he and Daphne live and one of the beaches involved in ugly scenes. The experience reported is a far cry from the civil strife and fascinating in itself.

The recent anger at Sydney beaches was reported by the world media. Though my best day at Maroubra didn't get a play on the radio. It was late November 2005, an hour off sunset, hot and steamy. Good time for a surf. The beach was crowded, parking was difficult, and nobody made eye contact. I felt alone among strangers.

The seawater was refreshing. I paddled out and caught a few waves. Eavesdropped on a couple whining about hard-day-at-work and traffic-jams-getting-worse. A mother on shore screamed at a child to get-moving-or-else. Mostly it was quiet. The sea was smooth and glassy. Then suddenly a single dolphin leapt out of the ocean, high into the sky, belly white and twisting as it pulled off an amazing backflip. Then another! A huge pod of dolphins started surfing the waves and ending their rides with acrobatic flips in the air. Better than Sea World. At least 50 dolphins - big, healthy, well-fed, clucking and totally happy.

The joy was contagious. People started hooting, cheering our aquatic mammalian cousins. I noticed strangers made eye contact, conversations began, sudden realisations, they had shared the same beach for years. I was surrounded by pure happiness. I made new friends, reawakened old acquaintances, shared waves and even gave them away. In 42 years it was my best day at the beach.

Later, I did some research and discovered the theory of biophilia; how human health and wellbeing are dependent on good relationships with the natural environment. Patients suffering from depression, swimming with dolphins and reporting lasting improvement. Is this a natural, drug-free cure for depression and anger? The secret to real happiness? Perhaps more people in Sydney need to swim with dolphins, just once. We are all mammals.

Andy Pitt, Maroubra

Posted by Greg Stone at December 18, 2005 12:09 PM