As a special Valentine’s/birthday gift, Chris bought me a “dolphin snorkel encounter” at a local resort. This place is better than most for such things–they have a group of 17 dolphins (mostly born there) who live in big enclosures out on the reef–it’s much more natural than many tourist dolphin centers I’ve seen or heard about. After a brief introduction to one of the dolphins with a trainer (petting, watching some tricks, looking at anatomy), I got to swim for a half-hour in the lagoon with the dolphins!
At first, I floated in the water, swimming idly about looking for the dolphins. Before long, big shapes started whizzing past me in twos and threes (and later in larger groups). I can’t articulate what it was like to be, for a short time, in their world. They are graceful and playful, acrobatic and inquisitive, and VERY fast and strong. Sometimes I would catch the interest of one or two and they’d come up to my mask and look me in the eye or give a slow spin in the water next to me, letting me run my hand down their sides. Or they would loop around and around me, playing ‘catch me’. Keeping up with them in the water was hopeless–I felt like a slow and graceless lump–so it was mostly a matter of letting them come to me and then swimming and playing with them for as long as they stayed. Several times I watched a group get into a big play-wrestling match, with lots of spinning and pushing and churning up of the water. I could toss a bit of sea grass for them to “fetch” or dive to the sandy bottom and poke around, causing them to do the same. But mostly I just watched and enjoyed. When I eventually had to go to the shallows and get out, they were very playful and enjoyed head-butting me to knock me over and twisting around my legs as I tried to walk.
Overall, it was just an amazing experience–everything I’d hoped for!