10/06/2008

Dolphin Attack


I had always heard that dolphins will attack humans for reasons that are still not clear to scientists. But, I just casually dismissed them as just being extremely rare. Living on the gulf coast, I had never witnessed anything like that. Whenever we went out fishing, the dolphins were friendly and would race alongside our fishing boat in the gulf. They have always provided lots of entertainment if the fish weren’t biting.

That’s why I was a bit skeptical of what an old friend of mine told me a couple of weeks ago. Jed, who has been in Stage IV lung cancer, said his oldest daughter took him out in the wheelchair to his beloved pier on Dauphin Island, which is located about 30 miles south of Mobile. Now, I realize he is on pain killers and his chemo has officially ended. That’s the reason I thought he was just a tad delusional. That’s understandable. Just being wheeled out from his house to the pier sapped most of his strength. But, from talking to him, his mind still seemed sharp as ever. He has never been one to lie. Jed told me as he was sitting in his wheelchair, he noticed a fisherman in his little bass boat, hitting the water with his fishing pole. Jed said he thought that was strange. But, he noticed why he was doing this; at least three dolphins were ramming the boat in an apparent attempt to capsize it. The fisherman was yelling to Jed and his daughter for help. Jed’s daughter called the local marine patrol to give aid. As they waited for the boat police (for lack of better terminology), one dolphin completely jumped over the man’s boat! Things were now going from bad to worse. Fortunately, this was about the time the marine patrol arrived on the scene and the dolphins took off.

The marine patrol towed him in to shore. The fisherman had lacerations on both hands. Jed didn’t know if it was from the dolphins or just hitting the dolphins with that fishing pole. He had deep gashes in the boat where the dolphins had rammed it. The boat, in fact, had begun to take on water at the starboard front side. Jed has lived on Dauphin Island for over 40 years. He said he had never witnessed a dolphin attack. He had never even heard of a dolphin attack on humans before. One old time islander said he thinks the fisherman had intruded on the dolphins feeding grounds. They saw him as a predator encroaching on their territory and reacted accordingly.

Strange that he got to see this just prior to the end of his life. I got word Saturday morning Jed had passed away. I will be attending his funeral Tuesday.

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