Have you ever stopped to reflect on why you surf? There is no shortage of very obvious answers – the mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits of being in the ocean and riding waves. The deep connection to Mother Nature. The distance it creates between your mind and all your Twitter feeds – these are all great answers.
But have you ever considered that there might be something deeper going on?
On a neurological level, the reason we become addicted to surfing is due to the chemicals your brain produces during and after. Boring, I know. There are scientific explanations like that for everything in life. Isn’t it better to think about love as love rather than breaking it down into a million molecules, for example?
Well, yes.
But the reason I bring this up is because new research proves that our surfing soul mammals, dolphins, may ride waves for the same reasons.
A new study conducted by the Marine Biology department at the University of California, Santa Cruz exhibited a spike in the part of a dolphin’s frontal lobe that processes emotion when they ride waves. While charts have shown similar spikes when they are chasing prey, this spike was shown when the dolphins’ behavior wasn’t suggestive of hunting, rather when they were simply riding waves.
This study was not specifically focused on observing the neurological response within a dolphin while they rode a wave. As a matter of fact, researchers were gathering data on how dolphins react to sound waves emitted by popular fishing devices such as the Fish Finder. The wave-riding observations were merely a side effect of the broader research. So don’t expect anybody to dig into this idea from a scientific perspective anytime soon. Given the state of our oceans, there are issues that demand much more attention. However, it’s still something to think about next time you share a lineup with your favorite fish. Maybe people and dolphins are closer than we’ve previously thought. Maybe people really are dolphins after all.
All I know is that instead of calling Kelly Slater the GOAT, from here on out I’m calling him the DOLPH!