“We’re packed up for tomorrow honey!”, I informed my hubby, to eliminate any possibility of an eleventh hour pull out, since a weekend getaway seems like a luxury these days! We had a 9-ish start from Bhubaneswar as we were poised for a 3 hour drive to Satapada. Replete with snacks and toys, the car had turned into a mobile play station for our two little boys as my hubby and I were soaking ourselves with some effervescent melodies which were the perfect foil to the pleasant winter sky. Having reached our base camp of sorts – Satapada, we left our car behind, to board a motor boat that would take us to the island resort.

Perched an hour away, ‘Daaven Eco Resort’ is the equivalent of an oasis amidst the saline water body. An ideal ‘de-stresser’ for a bunch of friends or family, it offers various activities for kids and adults alike. If crabs and sea fish go with your palate, the experience goes up few notches more! A couple of days of unwinding and we were on our way back. Alas! However, there was still a lot to look forward to, since our boat ride back to Satapada was meant to be the highlight of the trip as these waters are home to about 150 Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevir)

On the boat, we may have appeared to be basking in the winter sun, but we were actually at the edge of our seats scouring the horizon to spot these adorable mammals. The slightest of ripples was met with a rousing sigh of anticipation. My sons were getting impatient with every blank fire, as we kept the quest on! The few crabs that had hitched a free ride on our boat, did help to keep them occupied though! In just a few minutes “Look out on your left!”, our boatman yelled out. The excitement reached its crescendo in no time as we spotted a pair of dolphins flaunting themselves for a few seconds before disappearing again with a plunge.

Though not as smiley faced as their other cousins, the first glimpse of these Irrawaddy dolphins was a moment to savour for the rest of our lives! Close relatives of the killer whale, they were grey to dark slate blue in colour, seemed paler underneath and had a distinctly high and rounded forehead.

As we waited anxiously for them to resurface, the moments seemed like ages, as my younger one exclaimed in despair, “Won’t I be able to see them again?”.

 Thankfully, his fear didn’t come true and we had the privilege of multiple sightings over the next 15 minutes or so. It’s really hard to imagine how these adorable and super intelligent mammals could have been brought to the brink of being endangered by a species that is so lost in its own proliferation that it has very scant respect for nature’s marvellous creations. I sincerely hope that tourism to such places doesn’t take a toll on their already dwindling numbers. Thanks for showing up, you ‘beauties with brains’!

By Arupa Ray Joshi

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