Are your kids fascinated by wild animals? Are you? Maybe we all are. Especially big animals or rare animals. My boys love birds and have bird books and bird drawings and we’ve gone through a few varieties of birds. May they rest in peace (the birds, not the boys). Whenever we travel the kids are always looking out the van windows for interesting new species. We’ve driven to Manitoba a few times and there’s always excitement to see moose or bears or elk on the side of the trans-Canada highway. We were visiting some friends in the southern U.S. recently when the boys and I had a pretty amazing wildlife encounter.
Our friends live near the ocean and have a tidal creek that runs across the back of their property. The creek height changes constantly as the tide moves in and out. The boys got up early one morning to try and catch some fish (not my most favourite activity if you read last week’s article). I went along with them out on the dock.
We heard a neighbour’s dog barking like crazy and looked down the creek to see all kinds of splashing going on. Whatever was down there was large. I thought it was the neighbour bailing water out of his kayak . Then we saw a big blast of steamy mist blow up in the air. This was no neighbour! It was a dolphin and it was heading our way! The tide was just coming in and the water was less than three feet deep so we would get a good view if it came farther. Sure enough we saw a big grey fin come flapping around the corner. Then the three of us watched a six-foot long dolphin swim right by within 15 feet of us.
The boys were ecstatic and could hardly believe what we just witnessed. We watched it swim along with the tide further up the creek. The boys went back to fishing and I climbed up on a bench to keep watching the dolphin. All of a sudden, it turned around and started coming back to us. I told the boys it was coming back and my 8-year-old son Justice asked if they could jump in and try to swim with it. “What could possibly go wrong?” I thought. I told them to go for it and before you could say, “wild, man-eating dolphin” they were in the water.
The dolphin came meandering back past us and the boys were almost close enough to touch it as it swam right by them! They were amazed and excited to have been so close to that dolphin in the wild. And they didn’t even get eaten so that was a double win!
This was a great memory to share with my boys. We didn’t catch any fish but had a once-in-a-lifetime visit with a huge fish (I know, dolphins are actually mammals). We made memories and I may even begin to like fishing after this experience. Dads before summer’s out, why don’t you try taking the kids fishing? Time flies! Make every moment count.
Jason Weening looks for dangerous wild animals with his nine kids and one wife. For more biology lessons check out heydads.ca.