Saturday, March 6, 2010

One Particular Harbor

I’ve been a Jimmy Buffett fan for over twenty years. I say “fan” rather than the typical “Parrothead” reference because I’ve always been drawn more to his ballads than the party songs often equated with the “Parrothead” moniker.

“I know I don’t get there often enough, but God knows I surely try. It’s a magic kind of medicine that no doctor can prescribe,” sings Buffett in One Particular Harbor. I’m certain that when he penned those words, he envisioned a turquoise blue-watered, secluded bay deep in the Caribbean. But for me, my “one particular harbor” is only as far south as Grassy Key, Florida, and the water there is best described as murky green. Regardless, those lyrics fit my feelings about and relationship with the Dolphin Research Center perfectly.

My first experience there occurred in December 1989 as a bucket-list type experience: swimming with dolphins. I returned a few years later as a DolphinLab participant, and from there my interaction with the facility has continued to grow. While I’m captivated and intrigued by dolphins, my continued admiration and support of the facility is founded in the people there… always has been, always will be. I’m quite saddened by the recent loss of one of DRC’s co-founders: Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez.

Jayne along with Mandy Rodriguez founded the non-profit DRC in 1984 upon “inheriting” it (and all its debt) after it operated as the Institute for Delphinid Research and prior to that as Flipper’s Sea School and Santini’s Porpoise School. Their vision was to create a unique educational and research facility. Job well-done my friends. But that vision and impact have traveled far beyond the perimeter fencing of the lagoons that are home to a colony of bottlenose dolphins and a few California sea lions.

Like the ripples created by dropping a stone into a quiet pond, the effect of Jayne’s vision and energy has spread out around the globe. Employees (both current and former), visitors, volunteers and contributors have grabbed Jayne’s message and shared it. And to the benefit of all of us, the message is not simply about dolphins but about ocean and planetary conservation as well.

I’m only one of hundreds of thousands who have been touched by Jayne’s energy and mission. While we all mourn her loss, what she began moves forward. Her vision was clear, and her dedication to it over the years was unwavering. For those closest to her, my hope is that you find comfort not only in your memories, but in the impact she’ll have well into the future. For Jayne, may you rest in peace and rest well knowing the world is simply a better place because of you.