Toby Hemingway 8

Toby sat on her couch taking in the scene. All her girlfriends had responded to her invitation to brunch and to learn more about the encounter with the mother dolphin and her dead calf. She loved them all: fisherwomen, sailors, mothers and wives, and retired teachers—a formidable, comedic, colorful army of capable women.

The story touched their hearts like Toby and Marsha. There is nothing more tragic than the loss of a child. When young die it is contrary to what we know, what we expect. Generative, renewing, freshly-made with all the vigor and hope for the future, a newborn makes us feel more alive and grateful for life itself. We pour our hopes and dreams into them. Why should it not be the same for the dolphin mothers?

“There are actually scientists all along the Gulf coast who are monitoring bottlenose dolphins,” Toby explained. “So far there have been nearly 100 dolphin deaths and these are just the ones that wash ashore.”

The sheer number drew outrage.

“How come we don’t know about this?” someone shouted. It was Shirley a retired teacher and long-time friend of Ron and Toby. Her husband Vern and she had sailed with their young families on trips along the upper Gulf. Shirley was a Fishin Chix of long-standing.

Toby explained the implicit gag on reporting the science that the refuge scientist cautiously shared with her. Heavy influence from tourism and the business sector sought to prevent tourists from going elsewhere out of fear.

“That’s tantamount to murder,” another exclaimed. “If it’s too bad to report, it’s not safe for families.”

Each woman began to comprehend the implications. Not only were they concerned for the dolphins but each realized whatever was affecting them could be affecting  their own family’s health as well. They ate from the Gulf and their children played in its waters. The authorities had assured the public that the beaches were safe for swimming. But, the fact of Toby and Marsha’s encounter with the dolphin mother and her stillborn baby drove home the implications more deeply. They were being lied to.

Their discussion went into the early evening with a plan to spread the word to friends and networks they each kept. They agreed to meet again in a month. Toby and Marsha could feel a united spirit among them. Nothing was more awesome than women defending their young. Nothing.




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