WildQuest is an amazing organization. And I would say respect of the dolphins is core to their identity. Before we ever got onto the boat, they described to us that they do nothing to entice the dolphins to come to the boat or to swim with us. They rely completely on the signals and communication that the dolphins relay to them.
When the dolphins are sighted, we move in that direction. One by one a dolphin will appear on the bow of the ship to ride in the waves – and then they disappear, most to return with two or more of their buddies. As the pod eventually is riding the waves in front of us, and we are cheering, the crew is still careful to pay attention to the signals. If the dolphins indicate or swim away from the boat, we do not chase them; we send them our appreciation for their showing up and letting them go. If they hang around and indicate they are more curious, the engines are stopped and we were allowed to carefully drop into the waters with them.
When I think of this level of respect for the dolphins, I believe it translates into a respect for each other as well. I do think play is grounded in respect of the other, no matter if human or animal. It means respecting the other when they indicate ‘yes I want to play,’ or not personalizing when they say ‘nope I do not want to play’ and lifting up deep appreciation for what interactions did occur. I was reminded of my golden retriever and how she won’t personalize if someone doesn’t pet her but moves on to the next person to ask them.
What would happen in our lives if we could release the idea that only one person meets all our needs? Or if someone sets their desire, it isn’t a direct reflection about us but is about them? This frees us and respects both ourselves and the other.
Photos provided with permission from Atmoji @ WildQuest