Friday, December 3, 2021

Chapter from my brother's book

hapter 25 The Healing November 18, 2021 On November 18th the Discovery Channel drove me to Rhode Island to film a segment with my sister Jay. I could get used to this! Jay is one of those remarkable women who have a unique bond with wild animals. I have seen a young moose come out of the woods and start nuzzling her parka as she spoke to him in an adoring yet authoritative voice. When we filmed her walking into her barn twenty horses came to attention as she told them how handsome they were. For twenty-five years my sister has also been part of a pod of wild dolphins and special friend with its patriarch who is himself unique among his species. Somehow in the vastness of the ocean this remarkable woman and this remarkable cetacean have found each other and forged an unbreakable bond in the Bahamian Islands. Today this bond is particularly poignant because my sister has inoperable cancer and the patriarch is himself old and covered with scars. Jay has to have regular chemo sessions and undergo dialysis three times a week. However she still wants to visit her patriarch friend so he can introduce her to his latest offspring. He has taught one calf how to approach humans, perhaps in preparation for becoming the next ambassador to our terrestrial species. Just as the patriarch has introduced my sister to his family, my sister has introduced her husband, daughter; sister and me to the patriarch and I don’t doubt that the patriarch knows exactly how each one of us is related to his special friend. In addition to being such empathetic social beings, dolphins also have the ability to use their sonar to diagnose and heal disease. Mother dolphins scan their nursing infants with pulses of sonar to see if they are having gastronomical problems. If she detects a bolus of gas she will caress the spot to release the gaseous pressure. The first time I met the patriarch my back was in pain. Just floating weightless in the warm alien world made me feel better and I found I could exercise strenuously without irritating my back. This was fortunate because the pod was swimming particularly fast that day. But the patriarch suddenly turned and floated vertically in front of me. He stared fixedly into my pain filled eyes, then abruptly scanned me with a burst of sonic pulses. It felt like a physical therapist had just passed an ultrasound wand over the precise disc that was bothering me. We know that dogs can use their keen sense of smell to sniff out skin cancer in humans and nip off any lesioned cells. I like to think that after my sister and the patriarch reunite and tell each other about their lives and families that the patriarch will bath my sister in a soothing shower of sonar pulses to draw out the illness lurking in her plasma cells. It is such interspecific bonds and strong friendships that give me hope that we can somehow heal our polluted planet. If we don’t, I fear future cetacea will warn their great grandchildren to avoid any species with our grasping long acquisitive fingers and large, curiously hypertrophied brains. #### Bill Sargent is a NOVA consultant and author of 27 award-winning books about science and the environment. His most recent book, CRAB WARS; A TALE OF HORSESHOE released by Brandeis University Press in September and will be available through local stores, and CRABS, ECOLOGY AND HUMAN HEALTH was

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Our last day on the Island

Hi All, The Discovery people have left with all their gear. We get one day to ourselves before heading home. We invite our friends, Robin, Abby and Suz out on the boat. John is adament that we don't stay out long. I had a rough night in dialysis and got home late. The dialysis center insisted I don't go out in the sun (oh well). We tour around looking for dorsals. I'm just taking in the gorgeous water, the sun, the view. There is nothing like this color anywhere. The thought of the cold dark water in New England is troublesome. Just as we get back to Leeward, we see some boats clustered together and there are Bo and Scooter. I get in and Scooter comes right up happy to see me. She's playing with a stick on the bottem just like a dog would play with a stick. She then picks up some seaweed in her mouth and swims around with it. Her dolphin jewelry. She wants me to see it. I invite the girls in to swim with her and Bo. My friends are so excited to see them up close. They are so beautiful.They are over the top excited to get the opportunity to swim with a mother and calf and be so close to them. Scooter in the mean time has found my flipper of interest. She's biting at it. I'm very surprised because no dolphin has ever even tried to touch me. John is wondering if he wanted to hold my flipper like we see the calves holding their mom's pecs in their mouths. I wish I could stay longer and play with her. I would have footage of all this but we had another camera clitch. It takes us awhile to get it all right! Boat, cameras, dolphins and scooters all working at the same time:) We hope to come back for Thanksgiving. I hope Scooter will still be with Bo. I hope more than anything JoJo will be ok! Next time I write a blog it will be to tell you how to watch the episode on Discovery Channel!!!

It's a Wrap

Hi All, It's been a whirlwind 5 days but, we had a great last day with JoJo joining Bo and Scooter. The Discovery Channel under water camera man got lots of great video of the three of them and me. Our day starts with finding JoJo and taking him up and down the coast until he branchs off at Pine Cay. Matt the camera man and I get in and JoJo spends a long time checking out the camera. He's particularily interested in the bubbles from Matt's tank. JoJo moves off to check the area or do some fishing. I am so hoping that JoJo is waiting for others because he stays in this area for a long time. We get to sit and watch the laughing gulls as they circle us and occasionally come for closer inspection. I assume people are feeding them off their boats because the gulls get so close. It appears JoJo has moved off so we head back toward Grace Bay hoping to run into JoJo or Bo and Scooter. The Discovery boat has gone ahead and they radio that they have found Bo and Scooter. We rush off to find meet. The dolphins are lazily coming our way. I get in and have a great time with both. Scooter is so playful swimming in circles around me. A ton of boats show up to watch. Scooter puts on a nice show spy hoping, swimming upside down and cavorting about.
They move off a little leaving the boats behind and I follow. JoJo shows up and we swim together following Bo and Scooter. If they had scripted an ending it couldn't have been better than that!
I had a first, where Scooter came up and nudged me! I never touch the dolphins ever, but if they want to touch me that's different. I hope Matt the camera man got it on film. She was very deliberate the way she came over and nudged me with her rostrum. She was so close that my camera didn't really get it. My camera is on the left side of my head and she was on the right side when she touched me, making it impossible to see. I really hope people don't start touching her. I know with JoJo that ended badly when an ignorant, probably drunk tourist tried to stick a beer bottle down is blow hole. From then on he didn't want people to touch him. He would either slap them with his tail or bite them if they tried. Unfortunatley, today we heard one boat captain encouraging his people to touch her. I wish people respected the dolphins. We are so fortunate that they let us into their lives. The least we can do is show some respect for them.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Day Four with Discovery Channel

Hi All, The Discovery Channel has arranged for us to get covid tests for our trip home. The testers come right to our condo. Other than feeling like I have a third nostril that was pretty sweet! I'm not feeling quite as good as the other mornings. I think the late night dialysis is taking it's toll. Perhaps a dolphin encounter will help. We get on the water a bit later due to covid test. It's a bit blustery today but still really nice. As we come out of Leeward, there are a few boats milling around. There is Bo and Scooter entertaining them. I get in and swim with them for a long, long, time. Scooter has gotten so long she's almost as big as Bo. She's frisky as ever swimming all around me. Her favorite is to let me swim by Bo then whiz up really close beside me, a sort of sneak appearence. Matt, Discovery's under water camera man is able to get in and get footage of Bo, Scooter and me. This is Bo's fourth calf that I have swum with. She's the first one that is fine with other people swimming with her. I expect JoJo wanted that to happen. In the video you can hear her whistling a lot until the music comes on.
I get back on Spy Hop tired but pumped to see my friends after over a year. Pretty soon we see that JoJo is in Sea Dancer's wake. They are heading toward Half Moon Beach where the tour boats bring passengers for lunch. It's a spectacular long beach over looking the gorgeous turquiose water. There are about 15 boats lined up with tourists piling out to walk the beach. JoJo leaves Sea Dancer and heads out toward us. I get in to swim with him. Matt gets in as well to get footage of us together. I hope for that great greeting I got the other day. I think really that was a, "I haven't seen you for a long time and I'm glad it's you"
. I did get some video this time and you can see the remorra hitching a ride back by JoJo's fluke.
By this time I am really tired and having a hard time climbing onto the boat. We leave JoJo with Matt's boat and head in. I really hate leaving him when he's in such a playful mood but I'm hoping to recharge and come out tomorrow.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Day Three Discovery Channel

Hi All, The plan is to leave the dock at 7 AM but, it never seems to go that way. There is so much equipment to load onto both our boats and people to get organized. In the mean time, a boat captain coming into the marina for fuel calls to us that he saw JoJo. This is making me nuts to get going. We finally start our circle of Grace Bay not sure which way he was going. After going past all the resorts and turning around and returning to Leeward, we see two boats acting suspicious. There he is behind a dingy attached to a brand new sail boat from the RItz Carlton, the "Lady Grace". John skillfully manuvers us by the dingy and JoJo comes right into our wake. He is heading toward Pine Cay. He stays behind Spy Hop all the way past Pine Cay, Fort George Cay and Parrot Cay. The Discovery crew sets out a drone to catch the scene. A laughing gull is intrigued by this new sort of bird! He swoops in for some close inspection. The water gets very shallow as we travel along Parrot Cay and we decide to turn around. I was quite sure JoJo would stay with us and he did. The Discovery crew started telling us to stop and see if he'd swim with us but I didn't want to do that because I knew he wasn't ready to slow down and swim with me. They had taken the camera men off our boat for the drone shots and they stayed on Matt's boat. We kept going with JoJo and they went off toward the reef to cool off with a swim. Once we got to Leeward JoJo branched off. I knew this was my chance. I got in while John frantically tried to get the other boat to come back. I swam over to JoJo and he came right up. He swam next to me looking at me as if to say, "where have you been I've missed you". I am babbling like a nut telling him how much I love him and missed him. I'm trying not to use my flippers because we are so close I dont want to kick him. He drops back and swims right behind me. I'm in heaven. The other boat has caught up and I figure they must have gotten some great footage of my reunion with JoJo after so long. If not my camera will have it. Not to be, they wasn't there in enough time to get their fancy cameras set up and mine didn't work. Big Bummer but I am so so happy to have that swim with my friend. I didn't think about my cancer, dialysis or of what I've been going through for even a second. Perhaps we will get footage tomorrow but, I got what I really wanted which was to be with JoJo.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Day one Discovery Channel

Hi All, After a very long time, we are finally here! I have to say getting through the airport in a wheel chair was the way to go. We went right to the front of the massive immigration line in Provo. Our great friends Abby and Robin pick us up each driving a separate cars so John could get to the Ship Yard where we keep Spy Hop and I could get to the condo to start the unpacking job. John and Robin get to the marina to find the boat filthy dirty, unfueled and with a shredded bimini. This is after many emails requesting that the boat be fueled cleaned and ready. Abby and I deal with unpacking and charging the 4 scooters. Neither of us were injured by the heaps of stuff crammed into the owners closet. Always a risk that you'll get beaned by a can of WD-40 or a flipper! We meet with the Discovery crew to go over arrangements for the next day. There are lots of them and they are all so nice. We decide on a 5:45 start to beat the tourist boats. They have hired a beautiful BIG boat owned by Matt Slattery to accomodate a huge crew of audio engineers, cameramen, director, and assitants. They have food and drinks that just couldn't fit on our boat. We'll have two camera men and one of their wives and so many camereras. There isn't an inch of room left over. We head off through Leeward Cut to start the hunt! I've been waiting for this moment for so long. It's drop dead gorgeous. How I love this island! No matter how you try to explain that finding JoJo when you come out of Leeward is a bit daunting, it doesnt become clear until they see the great expanse of water to the left and right. We do our dolphin circle past the resorts but neither boat sees anyone. We decide to split up. I think the Discovery people were starting to think we'd never find him. We are up at Pine Cay when Matt's crew finds him back at Leeward. We fly back with me trying to get flippers on without stepping on any of their massive cameras. Once we get there both boats stop and I get in. JoJo was clearly on a mission and not giving the reunion we were all hoping for. I swim with him long enough to see he has another damn remorra attached by his fluke. This never makes him happy. He does eventually get behind our boat and wants a ride to the far end of the island. I thought I'd get a swim once he wants to turn around but he just wants a ride back. I did get some footage of our first swim but unfortunatly the card broke as John took it out of the camera. Hopefully I'll get some tomorrow and hopefully he'll be in a more social mood! Discovery however got lots of footage of him in the wake and the beautiful flat tourquiose water. Until tomorrow. Jay

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Trip to Turks

Hi All, John and I are heading to Provo to meet the crew from Discovery Channel. We are hoping to see JoJo. It's been a long time and I hope we find him. I am eager to see who else is around. I hope there are new calves. I'm nervous my cancer will make me so weak I can't swim with them for long but I'm going to give it my best shot! Stay tuned I hope there's lots to report! Jay