Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Monday, February 18, 2008

Swimming with Dolphins

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Have you ever kissed a dolphin? Danced with one? Stroked their sleek sides or bellies? How about being propelled through, up, and out of the water by them? Well, I have and it was an awesome experience!

Our hotel in Cancun, Dreams, is one of several Delphinus (dolphin education and swim with the dolphins programs) locations in the Mayan Riviera. They are very proud of their dolphin programs. Dreams has five dolphins; one male and four females. They are all second generation, having been born in captivity. Four times a day, small groups of six people or less get to interact in different activities with the dolphins for a one-hour experience.

The dolphin pool was on the opposite side of the hotel where our room was located. We looked out over the Caribbean Sea, and the other side looked out over the dolphin pool. Each time you went somewhere in the hotel you had to pass the dolphin pool. Either the classes were in progress, or the dolphins were at play or rest. It was a great source of free entertainment to watch and they always drew an audience. It looked like fun but I wasn’t totally convinced I should do it—it was not inexpensive. However as more and more people in our group had the experience and raved on and on about it, I thought just maybe I should.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The experience was on one of the wive’s, ‘bucket list,’ but she didn’t really want to do it by herself. I decided to join her and I’m very glad that I did. Before we go any further, let me just say that I can’t take credit for any of the photos except for the two directly above. Another of the wives, Marymartha was kind enough to take some, as was the husband of my swimming-with-the-dolphins partner, Relleen.

Our experience started with watching a video and basic instruction on how to touch the dolphins and what not to do. We were told to stay away from touching their sensitive spots around their ears and blow holes. They told us to leave plenty of space between each person for them to be able to swim around us comfortably. If a dolphin kept coming back to you or spent more time with one person over another it was because they liked the way that particular person was stroking them. There were various activities that we would be doing as a group with the dolphins, such as the dolphins jumping over us, swimming very fast in a tight circle around us; and some that were one-on-one like the kiss, the hug, the dance, and last but certainly not least, the foot push.

The foot push was the one I was a bit worried about. I had watched many other people execute this over the past several days. Some had good “rides” while others fell flat. The foot push consists of you lying on your stomach, legs and arms spread apart. Two dolphins come up behind you, dive down and put their heads on your feet and SWIM VERY FAST, pushing you along, and hopefully the upper half of your body will be slightly airborne. You have to lock your legs at the knees and push back on the dolphins pretty hard. If you don’t, the dolphins will assume something is wrong if they don’t feel resistance and they stop pushing. End of activity. Would I be able to keep my legs locked? What would it be like?

Instruction time was at an end. Our experience was starting now. Into the pool we went.

We had watched so many other groups that we thought we knew what we were going to do in what order. The foot push was always one of the last things to be experienced. Or so we thought. Since all the groups in the pool share the five dolphins, it depends on what is happening in the other groups. Instead of getting to know the dolphins first and have them free swim around us, our trainer decided the foot push would be first for us. Relleen and I looked at each other with the same kind of oh, no! expression mirrored on our faces. She was apprehensive about it too.

I did my spread-eagle pose in the middle of the pool and waited for the first touch on my feet. I locked my knees up and tried my best to keep my legs in position. It took a few seconds before I felt myself rising out of the water, and let me tell you, those dolphins were pushing hard and fast. Some of the photos are silly because my face is contorted in what came out of my mouth as a victory WHOAAAAAAAAAAAA!! ( ahem, I won’t be sharing those particular photos here.) It was so awesome, I can’t put it into words. In this first pic you can see the dolphins at my feet. The next one as I was starting my ascent out of the water, and lastly my great flying form in full push. The video that follows is great because you can actually see them pushing me.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

All the people in our group had great “rides” on their push. We had two children in our group and they had to put their legs together (as opposed to apart) while only one dolphin pushed. Those little kids were nearly ejected out of the water they got such lift!

Next was what I like to call dolphin mingle time. The dolphins were free to swim around us as we reached out to stroke them. Their intelligent eyes seemed to take us all in. The expression on their sweet faces told me that they were having a great time. We just bobbed in the water and waited for one of the two dolphins assigned to us (we had the oldest female and the young male) to glide by for some attention. 

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

One dolphin swam right up to me and I started stroking its side, next thing I knew it had flipped over and was offering up its belly to be rubbed! I just started to laugh because it reminded me so of our dogs. Belly rubs for a dolphin! I felt special since it was the only “belly rub” in our entire group, yet it had singled me out for some reason. It’s not easy for them to lie on their backs for long (it’s the equivalent of us holding our breath).

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

The other special thing that happened to me occurred about five minutes afterward. I didn’t even see the dolphin coming, just felt something lightly touch my legs behind me. This dolphin literally wrapped its body around my legs as it circled me, wrapping me tightly in what I would consider a hug. Wow. I have no way of knowing if it was the same dolphin that I gave the belly rub to or not, but I have a feeling it was. I felt like I had truly made a connection to these special creatures.

From the dolphin mingle we moved on to one-on-one and group activities (which were also photo ops for the professional photographers employed by Delphinus so they could sell us video and pics after).

Here is the pro photo of the dolphins jumping over us.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Here I am “dancing.” First we held out hand out in front of us and the dolphin came up and touched our hand with its nose. Then I gently took hold of its flippers and we did a little dance.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey


Rick was poolside and had the slo-mo camera at the ready to catch this video of a jump over another group in the pool. Notice the huge water displacement as they exit the water.

 

We also spent quite a bit of time in dolphin education at the side of the pool. Our trainer flipped our dolphins over and showed us how to tell male from female. We ran our hands over their tails and felt the muscle beneath. They were so warm to the touch. After a few minutes he would roll them back over so they could breathe through their blow holes. We looked down into their blow holes (very strange!), ran our fingers across their extremely sharp teeth, and basically got much more up close and personal than we had done in the mingle.

This activity works both ways. The first is obvious and meant to promote education regarding dolphins. The second is that the dolphins get used to strangers handling and touching them so that when they need veterinary attention and things such as blood draws, ultrasounds, etc., they are more willing and trusting with outsiders. A perfect blend.

They are playful creatures and almost seemed to ham it up for the cameras. When doing the dolphin hugs they opened their mouths wide into what looked like a huge grin for the camera. They did their jobs tirelessly, gracefully leaping, jumping, and obeying the trainer’s commands.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I came away with a new appreciation for their obviously supreme intelligence. I could almost feel it emanating from them. Very cool indeed. So, here concludes my fabulous experience of swimming with the dolphins. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing it with me. I’ll leave you now with a kiss!


Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Next entry: Flotsam and jetsam

Previous entry: Chichen Itza 3

About

Welcome, I'm Lynne. You know me better as a 'new' Jersey Girl. But now I've moved back to my 'home' state and I am living in NoCo (Northern Colorado).This blog will be about my thoughts, good food, and of course, dogs.

© 2006-2018 Lynne Robinson All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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