As it happens, I've moved back to Australia! Back home to Byron Bay. It was a sudden move and it feels weird, but it's also wonderful and I'm enjoying the familiarity of home.
Yesterday, as I was looking at the shitty waves being messed about by a strong on-shore and strong currents, I noticed some commotion over at the Table of Knowledge*. I could see there was attention being paid to the nose of a longboard, so I went to have a stickybeak.
Sure enough, the board was damaged. A long incision that cut through the whole board, deep into the body of the nose. The cut was as long at the span of my outstretched hand from my middle finger to my thumb. Obviously, the board had been hit hard.
It was a dolphin! the man told me. He looked, while not exactly in shock, certainly in bewilderment.
Yeah look, it's left some skin behind, John pointed out, sticking his fingers into the torn fibreglass.
I stood, mouth open.
I took the opportunity to talk for a while about how I've been telling everyone for ages now that dolphins can be a bit sinister and smug, and how I've heard a researcher explain that they can be a bit clumsy. We have a lot of bottlenose dolphins around here, and it's really common to share a surf session and even waves with them. Along with turtles, stingrays, fish, sharks and, in migration season, whales, bottlenose dolphins are a part of our everyday surfing experience. According to a research project about the local populations, there are 1000 bottlenose dolphins that use the area regularly. When they swim around me, I can't deny how amazing it is to share the waves with such a huge creature, who moves so incredibly through the water. At the same time, I find it intimidating and a little uncomfortable, especially if they've come in chasing schools of fish. People often paddle over to them when they're in a pod, feeding, which I always find insane - they're feeding!! My relationship to surfing with them is combination of amazement, stoke, terror and suspicion...
But of course, I hope that poor creature is okay. It certainly got hurt in that interaction so fingers crossed the injuries are superficial and heal quickly.
*The table of crew that surf that spot at that time everyday. At this break, it's claimed before sunrise by John, who leaves his board bag and wet-basket on the table to make sure no-one takes it. I always stop by for a chat and banter and to dissect the waves fro that surf before getting on with my day.