I have spent many, many hours watching dolphins with my aunt, both from the beach and from a boat. Seeing them up close or from afar brings a sense of joy. I never asked her why she loved them, I just accepted that she did and joined her in that love. Whenever I see a dolphin, my first thought is always of her.

Perhaps she loved dolphins because they are intelligent creatures. Not only do they have excellent problem-solving skills, they’ve been known to use tools. In addition, different pods have created innovative ways to hunt, showing both intelligence and incredible teamwork. They also have a sophisticated communication system that includes a variety of squeaks, clicks, and whistles. Dolphins use this language for communicating with one another, and like bats they use the sounds for hunting. This tells the dolphins the size, shape, and location of their prey.

Dolphins also like to have fun. While jumping out of the water is sometimes to get a better view of their surroundings, it’s oftentimes because of their playful nature. They will surf in the wake of a boat too, leaping and diving in the waves. Some dolphins even know certain boat schedules and sounds, and will appear when the boat takes off. Dolphins also like to play with objects. Because of their social and curious nature, they will even play with people.

But maybe my aunt loved dolphins because play, work, travel, and explore widely…and they do it together.