- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
After about 20 minutes, Stormy shimmied up and coaxed me to hang on to her dorsal fin and go for a ride. A breakthrough. I waved to Schooner as we went by, and she waved back, nodding her head in time with my hand motion. She smiled at me, flashing 90 teeth.
Shiloh darted over. Everything was going so well, I figured she wanted to play, too. I waved. She snapped at my hand, flipped her tail and scooted away.
"Shiloh hates women," the trainer said after motioning me to the surface. "You're invading her territory."
Now you tell me. So, Shiloh knew I was a girl? Even wrapped in the wet suit? At first I wondered if she had smelled my perfume. But dolphins have no olfactory sense. She had used echolocation to sonar me. Dolphins send out sounds that are reflected off objects and return to their sensory system through their lower jaw. The vibrations travel through a thin, oily substance in their jaw, and, via something called the acoustic window, reach the inner ear. The sonic image created enables the dolphin to discern the size, density, speed and direction of another object in the water. My curves, when sonared, gave me away.
Shiloh danced past and flicked her tail again. Talk about moody. She has even been known to play tricks on kids who are watching her MarineWorld show. She'll be playful, urging them to stand near the edge of the tank, and then she'll soar out of the water, wrap her nose around their legs on the way back down and pull them onto their fannies. Shiloh convinced me I had spent enough time with the dolphins. It was time to explore life as a whale.
Koko, who had been moseying around the bottom, decided to check me out. He circled, his massive body filling the tank. He was ugly, with dark, bulging eyes and a round head that had earned him the nickname Bowling Ball. Definitely not a looker. He moved closer. The trainers spun around cautiously.
"I've been in the lank with Koko hundreds of times in the past two years," said one of the trainers, "and I still never know how he'll act."
Koko slowly swam toward me. Three feet from my face, he opened his mouth. Out rolled a tongue the length of Highway 101. The trainers decided my search for myself was over. I agreed. I didn't want to write my first novel from inside the belly of a whale. Somebody else had already tried that angle.