Monday, 13 October 2014

Roger Lever - 2003 A year to remember... or forget

When I qualified as a Vet in 1973 little did I know that many years later I would be killing nearly as many animals as I had saved in my whole career, and all in the space of one year.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. The Foot and Mouth epidemic of 2003 had to be tackled with a vengeance and we in Dumfries and Galloway had more than our fair share of the disease to deal with. In the midst of the slaughter I carried my camera. Needless to say some of the images were pretty gruesome. Most of them were of the numerous funeral pyres that were burning around our beautiful countryside.

My camera lenses were not as good as the ones I now use but I suppose these particular images are more about creating a documentary record rather than making beautiful pictures.

In May of that year just as the above trauma and stress of that situation was reducing somewhat I decided to go to one of my favourite places, Dingle in the south-west corner of Ireland. There I encountered the best cure in the world for a troubled mind and engaged once more with the natural world in a more normal way.

Just off the tip of the Dingle peninsula lies the Great Blasket Island, a lovely place which has the best beach in the world, the White Strand. As our little boat approached the old landing stage I spotted a friend of mine swimming
with a young woman out in the bay. I noticed he was filming her as well. Then a dolphin appeared. After watching them for about half an hour the pair boarded their boat and left the dolphin swimming around on its own. I had just a short time to decide - NO DECISION- I stripped off to my underpants and jumped in.

AAAAAHHHHHH! In May the water off the Blasket is still freezing cold. Within seconds the dolphin was there at my side. I swam around for a while with it and then it came right up to me, so close that I could put my arm round it. Being a vet my natural instinct was to think that there maybe something wrong with it of course but then I realised it was not the dolphin but myself that had the problem.

I was frozen and shivering and the dolphin stayed with me until I could take the cold no longer. Reluctantly I had to get out.

I never got a photograph of it. If I had had my camera in hand it would have been blurred anyway due to camera shake!!

It is difficult to describe such an experience in words. You have to feel it.

The dolphin moved on to Wales and down to France after that, sharing its very special powers with other fortunate individuals along the way.

Roger Lever

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