Playground in the Sea
text and photo by Melba Milak
Not so long ago, on a warm and sunny afternoon, I came across a parade of porpoises in the Pacific Ocean. They raced by our fishing boat in a display of grace and speed. They leaped over one another in their version of leapfrog; they jumped straight up into the air and spun in circles—three, four, five times—like Olympic divers. One of them, an acrobat and clown, smacked back down into the waves, making huge splashes, like a bratty little brother doing cannonballs in the swimming pool.
It was a magnificent sight, a mile or so of twisting, turning, “Aren’t we having fun?” “Aren’t we happy?” “Isn’t it a glorious day?” Spinner dolphins in the wild; swimming in their natural habitat; playing in the waters 30 miles offshore from Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.
A hundred yards away, a sailfish jumped in a series of arcs—freewheelin’, the local boat captains call it—a silvery flash meeting its own reflection on the mirrored surface of the sea. Such joy, such exuberance, a spectacular show of muscle and might and splendor.
It was a beautiful blue-sky day; the waves rocked the Olive Ridley sea turtles to sleep and carried them across the miles. Only the noise of the boat motor awakened the tortugas; many of them raised their heads in a lazy, silent “Hello!” before drowsing again.
Seabirds sometimes alit on the turtles’ leathery backs—maybe to rest for just a little while, maybe for a moment of companionship in this big, big ocean or maybe to tap out a secret message before flying on endless journeys over the water.
And I felt so privileged to be here—in the peace, in the quiet, in these awe-inspiring moments—to share in the magic of this playground in the sea.