Posted by: Ed Deiss | September 27, 2015

What I Realized When the Dolphin Asked

dolphin-rescueScuba diver Keller Laros will not forget January 11, 2013. He was in the right place at the right time.  Having a fish hook and line entangled in your mouth and fin is painful. The dolphin needed help and he was the right person. Leading up to this encounter, the dolphin was just not sure if and when help would arrive. Or for that matter, what form.

Ever sought help and not sure who or how? For me, it happened as a seven year old kid when I came home and my mom was gone. When I left life as I knew it, and my brother and mom, soon thereafter for Asia with my dad, with our clothes and faith in what life had in store for us. I know it often occupied my mind during the transition to being a single parent and even well along the way now. Do you find yourself at times entangled in anger? Bitterness? Doubt? Grief and sense of loss?

The picture above speaks for them both.  They did not say a word to each other, nor could they. Actions spoke.  He motioned for the dolphin to come over and freed the entangled mess of fishing line and hook from it’s pectoral fin. Laros knew the injured dolphin had complete trust in him and he is humbled by all the attention and hopes those who watch it see more than just a rescue at sea. The video has touched the hearts of millions of people across the world:

I have been on that dive in Garden Eel Cove off the Big Island in 2002; been diving since I was 14.  Saw many Manta Rays and touched them as they gracefully and effortlessly swam by, with a wingspan the width of a car.  There were no dolphins to be found that night however what is clear from this event is the dolphin actively sought and asked, in it’s own way, the diver for help. There is an obvious connection between the two. Perhaps the thought bubbles the dolphin was having could have been translated as “See this fishing hook and line I’m entangled in, can you remove it please?” “Hold on, I have to go up for air then will come right back down. “I trust you.” At the end when swimming off, a shy glance while saying ‘Thank you, friend.’

“It was an emotional encounter,” says Laros in an interview. “My first surprise was when the dolphin was right behind me. Second, I was shocked when the dolphin came over to me after I signaled it. Next, I was nervous that I’d screw up, drop my scissors and not be able to help the poor dolphin. When the hook and line were removed, I was relieved and happy that the dolphin was going to be OK.”

“I think this encounter has reinforced my belief that we can all make a difference in the world by being good and simply doing the right things every day,” says Laros. “Be it holding a door for someone, recycling cans, bottles and paper, being polite and patient with others, or helping an injured animal, do your best and do what’s right and every day the world can get better.”

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

Why is it so hard for us sometimes?  When pressed with troubled hearts and minds, what gets in the way? Pride, shame, embarrassment come to mind. Not wanting to appear weak or bother others. Figure one can handle it best on their own, and that way keep it to themselves and maintain control over it. The presumption is that not only is there something wrong with asking, there is something wrong with the person who is asking.

These behaviors and attitudes actually hinder us and shut the door to learning and growing.  It will close off the help we need to learn the things we need to know. It will keep us from securing help and advice to become the person and parent we need to be. My experience has been that as a parent, I also need to be a student.

“Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had a similar experience to Keller Laros. Diving in the South China Sea off Malaysia towards the end of another ocean sojourn and came upon a nurse shark which appeared to be resting at the bottom. Something looked wrong. Looked closer and there was a fishing rope tightly entangled around its body and fins. Without any words possible or exchanged, I could tell the shark was signaling a call for help. It had to be freed.

Reached down and I took out my dive knife from its sheath. I approached and started cutting away the rope. The shark knew I was helping and stayed very calm. The rope was so thick, it became a race between breathing the air I had left and getting through the rope. The rope proved thicker than the air I had left in that tank and had to stop and go to the surface. Perhaps the shark had a thought bubble that said “Know you will be back.”

Taking a surface interval with dive buddies off coast of Malaysia in South China Sea

Taking a surface interval with dive buddies off coast of Malaysia in South China Sea

When I reached the surface and swam over to our dive boat, was asked what I was doing.  Informed my dad and dive buddies that there is no way I’m going to leave without giving it a shot with whatever air we all had left. Came back down after I switched tanks and kept cutting away. I recall it took around 20-30 minutes to cut the rope and get the shark free.  The rope left a deep skin imprint around its body, however looked to be fine. Remember the shark slowly swimming away, threw me a glance.

Akin to the dolphin off Hawaii and the shark off Malaysia, we are free when not entangled in pride and other attitudes and behaviors. Be rest assured that you are not alone and there have been (and will be) times when you come up against problems that are too large to deal with based on your own knowledge and strength.  You can Get Through Tuesday.

Don’t stay entangled. All you need to do is ask for help, you may find it comes from an unexpected place.

“The first step toward getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~ Unknown

Until next time,



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