Written By Nick Sims
One of my all time favorite stories concerns Matagorda Beach. In August of '79, I got the call to haul some tools to a rig. It involved driving 30 miles down a wild Gulf Coast beach late at night. This night would be one that I would remember the rest of my life. It was magical, awe-inspiring, and a wonderment.
I had lots of time to spare, taking my time driving down the beach. The tide was way out, which can be good when you're on wild beach with two-wheel drive. You get down on the hard pack, with two wheels almost in the water, and don't slow down. This way you don't have to drive in the sand drifts and chance getting stuck.
It was the dark part of the night, with no moon. The stars were showing off, putting on a show. It was real special. When I stand on the Gulf on a night like that, I feel as though I am on the edge of the world. To make it even more spectacular, there was a meteor shower, sending in streamers. There were blues and reds better than any fireworks display.
The poor girl was high and dry, had been for at least a couple of hours. There didn't seem to be any apparent damage except for a minor wound on her tail. She was beautiful, shiny gray, at least five feet long. She seemed to be breathing regularly, though a little strained. She didn't seem to be at all frightened of me. Walking around her, I could see her tracking me with her eyes focused and following my every move. She was so attentive, conscious and alive.
About twelve miles down the beach; there was what appeared to be a log washed up in the distance. As I got closer, I could see that it was taking the shape of a large fish, I took it to be some kind of shark, long dead, as the tide was so far out. It was about five feet long. What made me think it was a shark, was the top fin sticking up as it was on it's belly. Being curious, I got out of the truck. On further inspection, it wasn't a shark, but a full-grown dolphin, and she was alive!
I had to do something. There was no way I could leave this beautiful animal to lie here and slowly die. I knew she was an air breather, but I had no idea how long she could survive out of water. It was a long way back to any civilization to get help, and it was late at night. She needed help right then; I had to get her wet.
Luckily there was a bucket in the truck that I used to clean the love bugs off my windows every thirty miles and a whole ocean for the water. I rinsed the bucket out in the ocean, and filled it up with water, but because there was a lot of sand in it, I decided to go out further to get cleaner water, even though I was getting pretty wet. Luckily was a warm Texas night. I soaked her down good and noticed a little reaction, so from then on I just dipped my hands in the bucket and kind of scooped it onto her back and let it roll down her sides. I did this for a good half-hour or more while I contemplated what to do next. I knew I couldn't use any tool that I might have with me, or I'd hurt her. I tried to pick her up, but there was no way. Man, she was heavy; I guess almost 400 pounds.
When I failed to pick her up, it seemed she almost sighed. All this time, I had been talking to her in soothing tones. I told her I wouldn't give up; I'd find a way.
Finally, I was starting to get desperate; I got down on my knees behind her tail and slid my hands together around her bear-hug (dolphin-hug) style. I worked my way into a squatting position, lifting and pushing at the same time, her squirming to help. We manage to make a turn, turning her face back towards the water. She was breathing much quicker now, I think she knew what I was up to.
I worked and worked, trying to "push" her the thirty-five or so yards back into the water. It was backbreaking work, and we were getting about a foot a heave. I couldn't think of any other way, so I kept at it, resting in between heaves, talking to her, wetting her down, and cleaning the sand off her face from bull-dozing her along the beach.
It took me well over an hour to get her to where the water was trickling up to meet us. I remember looking back at the furrow we had plowed. That dolphin and I had displaced a lot of sand, and I was hurting from the equivalent of pushing a small piano thirty five yards through the sand.
Now that we had reached the water's edge, my newfound friend was getting excited, and was able to help. Whenever the water came in, I would push, and she would wiggle. It was obvious to see that she wanted to get back into the water as bad as I wanted her back there. When the water went out, we both rested. I could finally see that in only three or four more pushes, she'd be home, and she seemed plenty strong.
I had so many questions, and I asked them of her. "How did you get beached? Will you be OK? Where will you go?" But of course, she couldn't answer me, in words anyway, as I felt a kind of communication that I have never felt before or since.
I will never forget that final push. With a kick of her mighty tail, she returned to her world, with as weird a story as the one I am telling you.
It was a magical night. I will never forget it. I wonder about her from time to time. I waited there for a long time, to make sure she was OK, and gone. After I finished delivering my tools, I had to come back down the beach again. She was nowhere to be seen. I smiled for days, and still do when I think of her.


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