Wednesday, September 14, 2011

swimming with dolphins

I swam with Dolphins last weekend.
(I have a newly- discovered goal in life to pet various wild animals.
 Jaguar, check.  Dolphin, check.  Next up: SLOTH. )
Originally I was just looking for someplace in Mexico to vacation cheaply for a weekend, since rates tend to drop during hurricane season, but I came across a place in Tulum that has a dolphin program.  And then I discovered Tulum is only a three hour bus ride from my favorite Mexican city, Chetumal.  Done.

tulum beach
Amazingly, with all the tropical storms and depressions swirling about, we had perfect weather.  The dolphin program was located on the beach in a fancy pants resort, and the dolphins were in a large salt water pool.  Everything was really well organized-- Daniel and I were assigned a dolphin trainer, and with one other person in our group we had an hour in the pool with our dolphin, whose name was Mincho, all to ourselves.

The trainer was really professional and knowledgeable, and he answered questions and taught us dolphin training methods.  We were in the water the whole time, petting Mincho who hung out by our legs, and we also got a kiss on the cheek, and got to grab onto his flippers and go for a ride.  Mincho also talked to us and performed tricks.    When he first swam up to us, his gracefulness just took my breath away.   I have seen dolphins in the wild, but standing in a pool when an 8 foot, 350 lb dolphin swims up to you is quite different.  I was pretty sure I was smiling like an idiot the whole time…. which was confirmed afterwards when we saw the pictures taken by the staff.  (Unfortunately they sold the pictures on a cd for $23 US per picture… so no photographic evidence of my silly faces). 

Things I learned about dolphins:
1.        Dolphins have belly buttons
2.       They can live between 50-60 years in captivity
3.       They need to be provided with games and toys or else they will get bored and become destructive.
4.       Our dolphin absolutely loved his chin and belly rubbed.  He was just like a puppy, he would swim up and press up against our legs to get us to pet him
5.       Dolphins don’t drink water, they get all their hydration from the fish they eat.  Their mouth is not connected to their lungs at all, they only breath through their blow hole on the top of their head. 
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to interact with a dolphin, it was an incredible experience.  Now onto plotting how to pet a sloth….

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