Evan Pender enters a huge, surreal location that few will ever get the opportunity to see when he descends below the water’s surface to go diving off the coast of Ireland.
Pender dives alone most of the time, although not for very long.
When Pender goes diving, a friendly wild dolphin by the name of Dusty usually greets him when he rises from the water.
Dusty has been a fixture along this stretch of coastline for more than 20 years, known for her occasional interactions with boats and swimmers. But her interest in Pender seems driven by more than mere curiosity.
When he goes diving, she seems eager to see him.
“I never look for Dusty when I get in the water,” Pender told The Dodo. “She finds me, so she must enjoy my company.”
Pender frequently spends hours in the water with Dusty, together discovering the underwater realm, but always under her control.
She is the one who initiates all communication between Dusty and I, Pender stated. “In the entire time I have dove with her, I have never touched her. Since I view her as an equal, I don’t want to upset the harmony of our relationship by stroking her.
The friendship between Pender and Dusty has grown stronger as a result of their mutual trust and respect.
One day, while out for a dive with the dolphin at his side, Pender momentarily removed one of the fins he was wearing from his feet. Dusty seemed amazed, perhaps realizing only then that his fins were detachable.
That thought evidently lingered with Dusty, even after she and Pender parted ways.
The next day, when he returned to the water, Dusty appeared carrying another fin she’d found. It was a gift — and with it, the friendly pair then played a game akin to fetch.
Here’s video of Pender and Dusty in action:
Pender and Dusty’s relationship at that precise time was reinforced by their common sense of humor.
“I believe I know why dolphins engage in object games. It fosters trust,” stated Pender.
She was aware that I enjoyed diving down to get the fin just as much as Dusty did. Otherwise, she would have expected me to always let go of the fin for her. However, she wished for me to participate in it. She didn’t ever miss a turn.
Dusty and encounters like these have made it abundantly evident that the ocean contains more than just beautiful seascapes to enjoy; it also contains actual emotions.
Pender is reluctant to consider himself an ambassador of sorts between humankind and dolphinkind, but through his incredible bond with Dusty, he’s built a bridge regardless.
“I feel at home underwater,” Pender said. “I love being around Dusty, and our friendship is getting stronger and stronger.