Swimming with Dolphins

Dolphins, Fun, Swim, Water, Swimming

I’ve always felt an intense pull toward marine mammals. This is a weird sensation for someone from Iowa with no significant bodies of water nearby. Swimming with the dolphins has always been a target. Two years ago, I got that chance. I was planning a trip to Florida with my son and some friends. At the beginning of the trip, we engaged in several boat rides where we had the chance to see dolphins in the wild. I had seen whales on whale watching trips in California but they were always so far off. Which is the way it ought to be, I wouldn’t want to be harassing a whale in the wild. But on this Florida trip, the dolphins would come right up to our ship. I actually heard air as it had been blown out of a dolphin’s blowhole, which was a thrilling event for me. I can still remember hearing it. Raccoon Poop

After departing Ft. Myers, we drove down to Key Largo to remain for two days and soon I’d actually be in the water with a dolphin. Dolphins Plus was our destination. This trip was planned with the dolphins as the highlight, it was in the planning for a year. I was so excited that sleeping the night before was difficult. It was eventually morning and we headed to the Dolphins Plus centre. Dolphins Plus is a education and research facility located on Key Largo. Dolphins Plus heads up the Marine Mammal Conservancy, which works to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured marine mammals. While we were there that the Conservancy was working with a group of pilot whales that stranded themselves in the Keys.

We had reservations to participate in a structured swim with the dolphins. During the structured swim two people entered the water with two dolphins. A trainer was present. We were asked to get in, my son and I went first. The next step was to hold out our arms with palms down. The dolphins swam close to us with their backs arched so we could touch them. This was how they got used to us and us to them. I couldn’t believe I had been in the water with a dolphin. . .touching one! The dolphins skin wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. For some reason, though I was well aware that they are mammals, I expected something cold and rubbery not warm and silky. We were instructed to do certain activities with the dolphins. My son and I swam with L.B. and Dinghy, two of ten Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins at the Dolphins Plus facility. It was such a strong experience being so close to those gorgeous, intelligent creatures. As we were leaving L.B. hung out near the surface, just floating there, with one eye out of the water watching us. I felt so connected with all the world, making eye contact with him. After you take a look to a dolphin’s eye, it seems unfathomable that anyone would do anything to harm them.

There’s still much controversy surrounding the dolphin-safe skillet issue. I did not know this, just like I’m assuming that most Americans do not. Dolphin-safe labels do not necessarily mean no dolphins were hurt or killed, just less. That is unacceptable. Since the start of purse seining from the 1950s, seven million dolphins have been killed. Purse seining, the preferred method for tuna fishing, involves the use of a huge net that would catch dolphins and the main target tuna, which swim in schools under dolphins. The concept is that the dolphins get out but all of them do not. Since dolphins breath air they may be easily drowned or injured when trapped in a web. In 1990 the three main companies, Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee, that provide 90% of the tuna in the US started with the dolphin-safe label, which indictes that no dolphin deaths have been observed. Observed being the key word. The government wants to loosen these dolphin safe rules, so we can import more lettuce from Mexico, the country that both harvests the most tuna but also kills the most dolphins.

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