Saturday, April 9, 2011

Swim with a Dolphin in Cancun


There are probably a lot of people out there that may disagree with this entry on my travel bucket list: to swim with a dolphin. After the saddest documentary EVER came out on the dolphin hunt and dolphin capture, "The Cove", I now know that I probably wouldn't do this again.  But what's done is done, and despite some of the horror stories involving dolphin capture, I really did enjoy my time swimming with dolphins.

However, I did some research after I checked this bucket list item off in Cancun, Mexico, regarding the "Swimming with Dolphins" program at the Delphinus establishment, and learned that most of the dolphins in the Delphinus aquarium are born into captivity, have longer lifespans that dolphins in the wild, are fed and cared for with the utmost respect and care, and are allowed to live freely together and establish normal social patterns as 'wild' dolphins would. It made me feel a little better about my participation in the Delphinus dolphin swim activity.

Getting splashed by a dolphin at Dreams Cancun Resort in Mexico.

I booked my dolphin swim through Grey Line Cancun tours, who picked me up from my hotel and delivered me to the Dreams Cancun resort, where Delphinus has a "Swim with Dolphins" establishment. The dolphin technicians asked me to take off all jewellery, including the toe ring that I have worn ever since my first year of college (and is now basically a part of my toe itself). Apparently the dolphins are enticed by shiny pieces of jewellery, and can inadvertently bite or hurt swimmers trying to play with it. Then it was into our swimsuits and life jackets. We watched a video on dolphins in captivity and their treatment at Delphinus, and how to safely swim with them. Then, without further ado, we leapt into the water of the murky dolphin tank.

We were encouraged not to swallow any of the dolphin tank water, as the dolphins live, play, breed, and produce waste within the water. As well, fish swam freely in the tank to encourage dolphins to hunt food for themselves rather than completely relying on their trainers for food. I did swallow a bit by accident, and had horrible stomach cramps later in the evening, which I believe was caused by the water. However, don’t let this little fact deter you: the swim was well worth the little tummy ache I suffered later on.

Cuddling with Bosch, the adorable dolphin!

The dolphin I swam with was named Bosch, and he was a five-year-old with the sweetest personality! He had a great connection with his trainer, and knew all sorts of wonderful tricks. My favorite was the Superman trick, which required me to swim to the middle of the dolphin tank and float on my stomach, arms spread wide and legs and feet locked. Bosch swam up behind me, nudged his nose into the arch of my left foot, and began to swim. Dolphins are powerful swimmers, and Bosch propelled me across the length of the pool so fast that my bikini bottoms started to slide off! I kept my body low in the water as Bosch pushed me to the end, while the Delphinus camera man snapped photograph after photograph. I was very worried there might be ‘nudie pictures’ of me on the Internet after this little escapade (thankfully, there were not).

Enjoying the Superman trick with Bosch, and hoping my suit stays on...

Bosch was a very willing participant in the dolphin swim: he let me massage his back as he swam in circles around me, he rolled onto his back and let me tickle his belly, he danced with me, let me hold him like a baby – all sorts of things! My favorite photographs are when Bosch leaned in and kissed me on the cheek, and then I turned and kissed him on the nose. It was an amazing experience.

The cost for the dolphin swim was pretty extravagant for a one-hour swim, but it was something I had always wanted to experience, and so I was willing to pay the price. For a larger group or family, this could be a pricey memory. As well, you are not allowed to take your own photographs: they hire a photographer and a videographer to capture the memories for you instead. But then they nab you: it is over $100 for a disc with all your photographs, and much more for a disc with the pictures AND videos. I splurged on the photo disc, as you can tell, and it was actually one of my favorite ‘souvenirs’ from my Cancun trip. Despite the costs, I highly recommend the Delphinus dolphin swim for anyone who is interested in this type of thing.

Making out with a dolphin - Spring Break in Cancun! Woo hoo!

Tip #1: If the water gets in your mouth, SPIT IT OUT! EE-yuck!
Tip #2: Wear a one-piece bathing suit if possible, or if wearing a bikini, make sure you wear a tight-fitting one!
Tip #3: Prepare to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time – dolphin swims and accouterments are not cheap!

2 comments:

  1. Great photos of you. I have only done the swim with the dolphins Cancun in Isle Mujeres, which is small island next to Cancun. It looks similar to the one you did at Dreams. Again, your photos are great and yes, its not that cheap but worth every penny!

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  2. If I had the chance, I'd probably do the dolphin swim again! And Isla Mujeres is wonderful too - a great little place, but quite 'touristy'! It had a fun atmosphere though.

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