Rural Living

Fish Tales

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

I have been known to have what is called “an NPR moment.” Perhaps you have, too. An NPR moment is when you pull into your driveway, but the segment airing on National Public Radio is simply too good; as a result, you sit in your car until the segment is finished. I have actually become so absorbed in an NPR moment that I forget to fully turn off the car when I go inside. The next day, I’m forced to search for someone with a battery charger, who knows how to use it.

Recently, NPR bestowed upon me the — dare we say — “thrust,” of this month’s column: dolphins.

No, not the Miami Dolphins; rather, the dolphins that swim off the Miami shore, and in other oceans of the world.

What piqued my interest was a brief bit about “Georges,” a dolphin of no little fame off the coast of Dorset, England.

Swimmers, especially those of the female persuasion, are being warned to stay out of the sea. It seems that Georges, who weighs about 400 pounds, is seeking a mate. Trolling the sandbars, if you will. Looking for love.

Dolphins, you may know, are some of this planet’s most intelligent mammals. Their brains, by the way, are even larger than those of humans. Perhaps dolphins are the smartest mammals, and we’re just not smart enough to realize it.

“Georges” — a French name, wouldn’t you know — is apparently lurking in the shallows off the Dorset coast, and foisting his amorous attentions upon female swimmers. According to the NPR report, “He won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”


One female pundit on the show opined, “Maybe the Dorset tourism bureau should use this as a promotion, rather than a warning.”

Imagine. A host of lonely female tourists, flocking to Dorset, thong bikinis in hand, to seek the attentions of an intelligent, 400-pound Frenchman who won’t take “no” for an answer. It could be England’s answer to the Cote d’Azur.

I’ve always wanted to visit the English coast. Perhaps now I’ll forego the White Cliffs of Dover for the action along the Dorset shore. Who knows what sights I might see!

I have actually been swimming with dolphins. None of them,

Now that I learn of Georges, I am led to wonder just what all the chatter and chuckling was about.

Flipper: “Hey, this one seems approachable.”

Winky: “Yeah, and check out that pink bikini. Think she’s looking for love?”

Georges: “Oui, but in all ze wrong places!”

(The dolphins chuckle good-naturedly at Georges’ bon mot.)

When I was working for Treasure Salvors, we had a “pet” of sorts at the wreck site, about 40 miles out to sea. His name was Ralph. He was a barracuda.

Ralph was about six feet long, which is pretty hefty for that species. And if there could ever be such a thing as a benign barracuda, it was Ralph. He would hang out with us while we combed the seabed for gold, silver, emeralds or, more often the case, pottery shards.

As the days, weeks and months wore on, Ralph grew larger. He seemed to measure about eight feet the last time I saw him. Then again, the size of things tends to be magnified underwater. It’s no wonder Ralph kept growing. He’d feast nightly on the garbage the guys threw overboard after dinner.

Garbage, we figured, was biodegradable. Turns out, Ralph glommed up the garbage before it ever had a chance to biodegrade. Little did we know, Ralph wasn’t the only scavenger circling our boat every night. One morning we caught a 17-foot tiger shark. After we hung him upside down, portions of our dinners for the last week spilled onto the deck. So did a license plate from Mississippi. And a four-foot black-tip shark, minus the head. And part of a yellow slicker.

After we each had our photo taken alongside the grinning, dead beast, we each came up with a reason why we couldn’t dive that day. Earaches. Sinus problems. Pressing business back on shore. The old Mafia adage notwithstanding, I’d give anything to swim with the fishes again. Perhaps a trip to merry England is in order. 


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