Wildlife Photography with marysejansenart
The intricate relationship between Australia’s Aboriginal Peoples and the Natural World
An important story
“I want you to tell the story! I’ve told it to you today and now I want you to tell it to your friends, your family …” Lyndon Davis, traditional owner of the Kabi Kabi (or Gubbi Gubbi) lands as well as artist and storyteller, looks at me intently. The story of Dolphin Calling Point is an interesting and important story that signifies the intricate relationship between the Aboriginal peoples and the natural world and their deep knowledge of it. In this story the dolphins play a central role. Lyndon told it with so much passion that I know I will always remember it. And today I want to share it with you!
We are standing on the rocky shoreline of Sandstone Point, just opposite Bribie Island in south-east Queensland. At a glance, although beautiful, there’s nothing really special about it: rocks and mangroves dominate the coast. But a long time ago, people from various tribes in this area used to come here regularly to fish.
In winter time, mullet and tailor would migrate up here from the cold waters down south. They sought the warmer waters and the protection of the mangroves to spawn. A lot of fish came up during these migrations and the Aboriginal peoples knew exactly when it would happen. How? They read the signs of nature!
The Red Stringybark and the Sea Eagle
The first indicator would come from a certain tree: the Red Stringybark. When this tree started flowering the people knew the fish was coming! They would get ready: preparing their spears, nets and canoes. Then they gathered at the shore, watching the Sea Eagle.
It was very important as the Sea Eagle would give them permission to start the hunt. The bird had a perfect view on the fish from above and it knew to let the leaders have a free pass. Why? Because if the leader fish would be caught, the followers would become distressed and disperse in all directions. Then they might get lost and die. That would be bad because it would prevent them from having more offspring which would affect future food supplies.
Calling the Dolphins
So the people knew that the Sea Eagle would let the leader fish pass and so they waited until the Sea Eagle started to hunt before they called on the dolphins! Lyndon points out a hole in the rocks beneath our feet. The people grabbed their spear and put it in the hole, swishing it back and forth during high tide. This would create a particular vibration which the dolphins recognized.
The dolphins came and chased the fish out of the deeper waters towards the people, who were waiting with their spears and their nets. They gave the dolphins a share of the catch to ensure the collaboration in future years.
Isn’t that a wonderful story? I think so! Dolphins are such amazing creatures. They are highly intelligent and sociable which makes these kind of relationships between these animals and human beings possible!
Reading the signs of nature
It’s also amazing to realise how much information you can get from nature just by observing closely. You probably know a lot more then you think as you are often not consciously aware of it, it’s just a fact of life. But most of you will know that when the birds get restless in the middle of the day, there’s probably a thunderstorm coming, or at least some rain. When birds start making a racket in a particular place, it probably means there’s a predator around. When certain trees start flowering in your part of the world you know that spring has arrived!
What kind of signals do you pick up on? I’d love you to share in the comments!
Passing on the story
What I find remarkable in this story is the multiple layers of cause and effect! That is really a higher level of connection with nature then what most of us have! All these intricate relationships have been learned by many generations and passed on by means of story-telling, song & dance and rock art. Just in the way that Lyndon told the story to me. Now that I’ve shared it with you it is your turn to pass it on! Tell someone! Share my blog! And celebrate the beauty of nature together with other people!
If you’d like to purchase ‘Bottlenose Dolphin riding on the Bow Wave’ or would like to see what it looks like on the various products, please head to my shop. If you prefer ‘Bow-riding Bottlenose Dolphin Pair’, click shop here.
Would you like to read more about Australia’s fascinating marine life? Check out my article ‘The Great Barrier Reef and its fascinating Corals‘.