Communication and Connection

Whether you call it hunkered down, nestled in or home bound, I’m it right now. The frigid temperatures coupled with SNOW, have made venturing out into the wilderness or even the yard for very long, uncomfortable. While this drives me a little stir crazy, I have had the opportunity to enjoy a film called Angels of the Sea by Oceania Project in Australia. This film got me to thinking a lot about whales and dolphins in the wild and those under human care. I have had the opportunity to connect with species in both settings. In every encounter I have ever had with dolphins and whales, they’ve been curious about the humans around them. They’ve spy hopped for lengths of time, jumped and swam close by. They’ve also done tail slaps, pectoral slaps, dives and all the like. The interesting part of all of this is that they are doing it all in the presence of us.

Whales and dolphins have been around for centuries and have survived many natural disasters and also those caused regularly by humans. Yet, they aren’t afraid of us, in fact, in many of my own personal experiences  it seems they they are trying to get our attention in order to connect with us. At the very end of the film, the narrator says something like “Whales have been trying to communicate with us for years, the question is: are we listening”.

This is a very important question. While our languages may not be the same, can we communicate and connect with these creatures? It is my strongest belief that when we quiet ourselves and allow ourselves to be conscious, we can communicate and connect and beyond that, we can form relationships.

My dear friend Sarah came out on a whale watch off the coast of Hampton, New Hampshire this past summer. After having the brilliant opportunity of seeing a few minke whales, our vessel was headed back to dock. We had the very unique chance to be with a super pod of well over a hundred atlantic white sided dolphins. As they jumped out of the water, you could briefly make eye contact. As time went on a few dolphins, swam right along the side of the boat with one eye staring right at us, deeply connecting eye to eye, looking deeper into each other than curiosity, becoming one. After a few bouts of this, tears streamed down Sarah’s face from this magnificent experience. The connections she felt were so rooted to her that they provoked an intense flood of emotion.

On my last trip to Tortola, while I was in the water with Jayi working on a client, I felt the client’s rib was out of place, I set her up to perform an osteopathic manipulation. I had one had on the back of her ribs and one on her elbow in order to apply a vector of force to shift the rib. Just before I applied the force, Jayi, with her rostrum, applied a quick force to the clients foot on that side of her body. I reassessed the client and realized the position of the rib had improved but was not completely in line. I set the client up with the force vector again, this time, in my head saying, “okay, Jayi are you going to do this manipulation or am I?” No sooner did I conclude the thought, that Jayi came right up and applied a quick much gentler thrust to the clients foot. The rib reset. From that point forward, I knew Jayi knew as much about my clients as I did, if not far more. Our relationship changed at the point, instead of working on clients simultaneously, we began to work with clients collaboratively.

We can work together with cetaceans, we can communicate with them, we can form bonds, we can learn from them and we can have emotions related to our relationships. We have to consciously make the effort to listen to them and connect with them as intently as they do us.


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