Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Go Dolphins

It was a rainy afternoon in the Keys. The weather looked like it was going to break, as the raindrops eased up just a little and I found myself wondering if a walk might not be in the cards. There's this place a stone's throw from the Bat Tower and it's easy to pass it by but if you have a dog to walk, nothing much will pass you by that might possibly be of interest. There's a canal dug into the north shore of Sugarloaf Key, and it looks pretty much like any other proposed development that didn't quite become a subdivision. There are lots of these cuts that were created when dynamiting mangroves and lime stone was permitted.I am not alone in my appreciation of undiscovered back waters, judging by this chair: There is a structure, slowly melting back into the vegetation:
And there is a sign in fading paint overlooking the canal:
Nowadays swimming with dolphin is advertised as therapy for wounded humans and a way to study wild animals, mammals said to have similar brain capacity to us. The Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary was designed with another purpose in mind. It achieved a certain measure of notoriety when the man who had trained the animal used for that most captive of mammalian circuses- television's Flipper -tried to prepare Navy trained dolphins for release from here in 1994. It seems the end of the Cold War was reason enough for the US Navy to end a rather expense program of training dolphins in the martial arts of submarine nuclear warfare and Ric O'Barry, the trainer turned activist prepared two Navy dolphins for a life back in the wild.
It seems it didn't go well, everyone got fined for the releases and the dolphins returned (or were returned, depending on whose version you believe) to captivity and the sanctuary has been working on dissolving itself back into it's own natural surroundings.Human crap lies everywhere of course. The concept of packing your trash is not commonly understood around these parts.
Bags of cement and ropes lie abandoned:
The place had an extra melancholy air to it the afternoon I took these pictures. The overcast skies, the rising damp everywhere, that most American ideal of freedom discarded with the trash...it made me rather moody. Cheyenne thought it splendid as she stumped around flinging her tail from side to side.
Across the water the Sugarloaf Lodge, barely visible:
And the open water to the north. It looks like dolphin habitat but it is rather shallow.
This is dog habitat:
I wonder what was going through her mind.