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Dolphin/Human Tag Game

Article contributed by: Planetary Partners

I've had the pleasure of swimming with dolphins on many occasions, and find them to be truly generous beings who treat people with great tenderness and affection. They also love to play with us, as the following story attests.
It was during one of my trips to Bimini, in the Bahamas. It's a beautiful place, and I take groups there to bask in the sacred springs and swim with the dolphins there. On this day the dolphins were extremely playful, and they were having a tag game with a piece of seaweed. They were passing it back and forth between them as they zoomed all around us.

I was watching with all the attention of a kid in front of Sunday cartoons. I was glued to the action. All of a sudden they swam up and dropped the seaweed in front of me. I was shocked, they were inviting me to play! Needing no second invitation, I grabbed it (taking in only a small mouthful of water), and took off. I looked over my shoulder and sure enough, they were right behind me. I swam as hard and as fast as I could, arms and legs thrashing the water. What I lacked in grace I made up for in splash. I imagine I looked like a toddler to them, barely making headway but with a lot of heart. When I was winded, which was pretty quick at that speed, I dove down and released the seaweed.

Wham! They grabbed it right back and were off. They chased each other, passing it from mouth to flipper to tail, zooming in and out of sight. (see photos) I was all grins, huffing and puffing as I caught my breath. Then they brought it over and dropped it in front of me again! I was the kid who's invited by the big guys to get off the bleachers and join in the game. I kicked off my imaginary crutches (the dolphins don't want to play with me), grabbed that seaweed and swam my best. After another minute of splashing and thrashing, I dove down, released it, and bobbed back to the surface, winded and content to watch them continue.
The game went on, and the seaweed passed back and forth between us several more times. Each time they dropped it in front of me I felt a physical shock, for it challenged an age old belief that I was doomed to be left out of the game. I swear these dolphins knew what they were doing. It brought me face to face with that old belief, and their behavior proved it wrong again and again.

It felt like receiving the darshan of a saint. A profound sense of peace and gratitude swept over me. This simple play was truly a holy interaction. I felt deeply honored they would include me in their game. They are so incredibly loving and generous to us humans.

A year later I was sharing this story when I realized that I never saw the dolphins take the seaweed from each other. They always waited for it to be released before grabbing it. It was what we as kids called "fair play," where everyone gets a turn, no matter your ability. What a great way to play!