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Swim With Dolphins – Is It a Good Idea?

Bow riding common dolphin looks at photographer from underwater

When it comes to activities to take part in during your next weekend getaway, one may pull out their handy dandy bucket list and explore the bright colored bullet points that have been building up since New Year’s. Whether you’re young, single, retired, or trekking about with a truck full of tykes and looking for programs with kids, your bucket list may include anything from surfing in Costa Rica to spending a day at Disney.

But one item on that list is often found at the top with its hopes of scoring a fin shake with a bottlenose dolphin or becoming a trainer for a day in a marine park. For many, this top lister may include swimming with dolphins, a popular venture among marine mammal lovers worldwide who crave those solid animal interactions, often including dolphin swim programs.

But what if we told you that swimming with dolphins is not what it’s charmed up to be?

When searching for swim with dolphins near me programs, several institutions throughout the world, such as Dolphin Cay and Discovery Cove, provide many dolphin interaction programs that include dolphin encounters in enclosed settings. These interactions with dolphins can seem nothing short of spectacular, but when a little additional thought is placed into this activity, some may begin to question the ethics behind such an enterprise.

The majority of dolphin swim experiences take place within an outdoor pen setting or aquarium. This means that each dolphin playing host in these tanks are captive dolphins. According to The Dolphin Project, “A number of aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs around the world purchase live dolphins caught in the bloody drive hunts of Taiji.”

This bloody drive hunt is initiated by Taiji, Japan, residents who herd hundreds of dolphins into shallow water pens where they are captured, separated from their pods, sold to these pens and aquariums, and often horrifically slaughtered.

This can cause fellow marine mammal enthusiasts to think twice when sporting up a google search with the questions, “where can I swim with dolphins” and “how much does it cost to swim with dolphins?” Although these searches may result in bright-colored website pages with acrobatic cetaceans, what isn’t shown in bright-colored font is how the dolphins came to be there.

What about dolphins in the wild?

Is it safe to swim with dolphins in the wild, and if so, where can you go swimming with dolphins in California? According to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, this act prohibits anyone from disrupting the natural behavior of wild dolphins and whales. Swimming with dolphins in the wild would most definitely alter the behavior of these animals, thus making the option of swimming with dolphins off of California a no-go in the natural setting.

Furthermore, when vacationing, exploring, and/or simply looking to have a good time with your loved ones, we’re certain that safety will be a large component when choosing your activity. This is an additional reason as to why there is no swimming with dolphins in the wild and especially in California. The majority of dolphins that are found along the coastline of sunny SoCal are dwelling in deep offshore waters, often reaching depths of at least three thousand feet or more, making this an unsafe option with a slew of inherent dangers when it comes to your fun-filled occupation for the day.

With the majority of dolphins found along the coast of Southern California, these numbers include the most frequent and numerous species, the common dolphin. The common dolphin is abundant in the waters of the Pacific, and although it may seem magical to dive in and swim about with these animals, due to their demeanor, they would most likely keep a very wide distance from you. This also goes for our coastal bottlenose dolphins who are somewhat satiated with swimmers as they’re accustomed to being around boats and people.

But with so many amazing creatures out at sea who mystify us with their majestic selves, there must be some way to interact in a safe and conducive manner that benefits both the marine mammals and us onlookers. Good news! There is.

Here at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, passengers can get up close and personal with these friendly, playful and jovial cetaceans aboard our whale watching catamarans. Although these friendly dolphins would grow weary with us as swimmers, they act quite the opposite when approaching our vessels. Often bow riding, stampeding, jumping and cruising up cozy to our passengers on-board with their curious stares and chatter. In fact, one of our favorite ways to view and interact with these animals is via our underwater viewing pods.

Unlike any other experience out at sea, these world-famous ‘pods’ enable passengers aboard our vessel Manute’a to be fully submerged below the surface of the water while coasting along eye-to-eye with the wildlife. Completely safe, comfortable, and unique, these underwater viewing pods give passengers that feeling of swimming with dolphins without causing harm to them or their environment. The animals swim right up next to the glass as they take in a big dose of karma and return the gleeful and curious stares. You can even hear the wonderful chatter of their clicks and whistles as they zip up, down, and all around the vessel you’re aboard. Tour operators will also chime in with insightful facts about fun and informative details regarding these incredible creatures.

Passenger watching dolphins from underwater viewing pod on Manute'a

So say sayonara to the countless minutes of web searching that include a swim with dolphins Florida, California, Timbuktu, or anywhere in the deep blue – we’ll get you cozy with the amazing wildlife, all while staying completely safe, ethical, dry and full of delight.

Until then,

Your friends at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari