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.
Pender once briefly took off one of the fins he was wearing from his feet while diving with the dolphin at his side. Dusty was shocked, maybe only then discovering that his fins were removable.
Evidently, Dusty kept thinking about that even after she and Pender split up.
The following day, when he went out to the sea, Dusty showed up holding another fin that she had discovered. It was a present, and the amicable duo then engaged in a game of fetch with it.
Pender and Dusty can be seen in the following video:
In that moment, the connection between Pender and Dusty was strengthened in their shared amusement.
“I think I understand why dolphins play games with objects. It builds trust,” Pender said.
“With Dusty, she knew that it was as enjoyable for me to dive down and get the fin as it was for her. Otherwise, she would have wanted me to drop the fin for her always. But she wanted me to go down for it. She never skipped a turn.”
Thanks to Dusty, and interactions like this, it’s clear that the ocean doesn’t just contain seascapes to explore — but real emotions, too.
Pender is hesitant to see himself as a type of liaison between humans and dolphins, but he has still established a connection thanks to his extraordinary friendship with Dusty.
Pender said, “Underwater, I feel at home.” “I enjoy spending time with Dusty, and our friendship is growing.”