Humans have always had a fascination with dolphins, a fascination that dolphins seem to share based on their propensity to playfully follow yachts around and the legends of dolphins saving people from drowning.
However, very few people have the privilege of seeing dolphins in the wild, while even fewer still have the opportunity to interact with them. Add to that the fact that interacting with a big animal like a dolphin in an uncontrolled environment can be unwise, and it seems the chances of ever meeting a dolphin up close and personal are remote verging on nonexistent.
At Dolphin Discovery in West Bay, the aim is not only to enable people to interact with dolphins, but also to make use of the captive audience they have to educate people about these amazing creatures.
The facility, which is located on the ocean, just across the road from the Cayman Turtle Farm, is home to eight Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins spend their days in a large enclosure with water from the ocean being constantly circulated through in order to keep the water in the enclosure fresh.
The facility offers three dolphin experiences, ranging from the Dolphin Lover’s swim to the Royal swim. The experiences start with an orientation on how to interact with the dolphins as well as some education on the dolphins themselves and their environment.
All three experiences include time spent in the water with the dolphins, including a kiss and a hug, but the Dolphin Swim Adventure includes more time spent with the dolphins as well as a belly ride. This involves you swimming out into the lagoon before hitching a ride back to shore on the belly of the dolphin.
During the Royal Swim you will interact with two dolphins, and this includes a foot push where the dolphins push you up and out of the water on the balls of your feet, as well as a dorsal fin tow.
Staff photographers are also on hand to capture the moment on camera and you have the option of purchasing this memento after your swim so you can remember the experience forever.
The health and welfare of the dolphins are vital elements of the success of Dolphin Discovery, and the facility carries certification from the International Marine Animal Trainers Association.
The park also takes its education role seriously, with local schools being invited to take part in interaction activities combined with education about dolphins, their environment, and what students can do to help protect the oceans from pollution.
This is just part of Dolphin Discovery’s focus on giving back to the communities it operates in, as the facility also has numerous Caymanian staff and can even boast the first Caymanian certified dolphin trainer, who forms part of a multinational cast of trainers.
Dolphin Discovery also hosts a free dolphin show on Sunday afternoons in order to allow families to come out and see the dolphins in action even if they might not be quite ready to get in the water with these magnificent animals.
There is also special pricing for local residents for the dolphin experiences.
For a more complete learning experience, a visit to the Cayman Turtle Farm just across the road from Dolphin Discovery provides an opportunity to interact with turtles as well as learn more about Cayman’s history and culture. Entry to the Turtle Farm is free when taking part in a dolphin interaction programme at Dolphin Discovery.
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