I met "Summer" twelve years ago, when she was on the verge of death. She was one of five females I fell, head-over-heels, in love with (forgive the grammar but it's how I feel)!
I think of "Summer" all the time. Last night, I dreamed about her again. In November of 2000, on Stock Island, Florida. I was one of many volunteers who chipped in to help take care of her. In two months, I once again remember and lament her story, yet embrace the experience!
"Summer" was an orphaned Baby Pygmy Sperm Whale who was rescued after her mother died. "Summer" had a ruptured sinus, and wasn't eating, couldn't keep herself afloat, and was very weak.
On one of my shifts, I got to get in the water with her in a small group, as pictured. Standing, wearing my neoprene, black-purple and green water-shoes to be able to stand on the rocky bottom, I helped hold her up in the water, rubbed her belly to comfort her... I even got to feed her!
Basically, I would pour about a half-gallon, or so, of Squid "smoothie" onto a funnel that had been inserted into her mouth/throat. To watch it made, it was several small, whole squids, some medication and nutrients--- I was told to take my time and let the tubing clear--- and then wait a little while before reloading. She had just started to take food and be able to keep it down.
She kept it all down, but I can tell you... Squid Smoothie-infused Baby Pygmy Sperm Whale flatulence is NOT pretty! But she sure was! She died months later, a healthy specimen who had been totally healed and was ready for return to the ocean.
I've missed her every Summer since!
It was such a remarkable experience and opportunity to be in the water with her. Looking in her eyes was magical, and I often hoped and wondered that she could see me there and know that we were all there to help her!
Being disabled, another reason I wanted to be in the water with her, was because of the many times I had been told of the healing energy that Dolphins are reputed to possess. Maybe we could heal each other, I wondered.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be with one of the most magnificent creatures in all the seas of all the world!
One of my lasting dreams is to return to the Florida Keys and spend a few weeks volunteering at the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key, off Marathon, Florida. Working with the incredible professionals who kept "Summer" alive and nursed her back to health, was amazing! I'm too old to become a marine veterinarian, or marine biologist, or handler for a living. But I'm convinced I'd LOVE it!
Spending those times with "Summer" ranks among the most remarkable interactions I've ever had, in a lifetime, so far, filled with remarkable ones, with which to compare it.
I later learned that the calf, now fully recovered, was digging around the fencing at the bottom of her pen, got stuck and drowned. After all that work, all those volunteers... they even painted her on one of the Bone Island Shuttle buses to memorialize her.
The whale pictured above is not "Summer", though this is what the shift team looks like in rehabilitating a sick animal--- The MB at the head, and supporters along her body. The female pictured is also not a Baby Pygmy--- but she is a Sperm Whale. I cannot find any photos of her online any more. We didn't have smartphones back then and I couldn't take pics with my FLIP PHONE!!!!!!!
Miss you Girl! ♥ Thank you for an experience and memory I'll never, ever forget!