Meeting Dolphins – Swim and encounter in the Caribbean.
A dream activity for many holidaymakers and animal lovers.
As part of our cruise we had the opportunity to arrange shore excursions. We are not used to taking part in large scheduled trips however the idea of meeting Dolphins here appealed to us. Before exploring the island of St Kitts we decided to book on the Dolphin Swim and Encounter at Dolphin discovery.
I liked the thought of the enclosure being part of the ocean here. I believed it would be closer to their natural habitat than an aquarium or pool in a park. However I did not have much time to conduct research prior to our visit.
On arrival we were given a safety briefing and a short explanation about the centre. We were issued our life jackets and split into groups of about 7 people. Our dolphin trainer then took us along the board-walk and down to a submerged platform to introduce us to the Dolphin named Dali.
The trainer explained how our encounters would work and told us about the commands he would be using. Dali the dolphin swam and played in the square enclosure whilst our trainer was speaking to us.
Each person then took it in turns to kiss, hug, swim, dance and be pushed along by the dolphin. He was fed fish as a reward and responded to the trainers whistle as well as hand gestures we were giving. (Or trying to give..).
I found it a great experience to meet this beautiful creature. I really enjoyed being so close to Dali and swimming in the water with him. He was gentle and seemed to enjoy what he was doing. But to be honest I don’t think I would really be able to tell if the Dolphin was happy to be there or not.
Meeting dolphins is an activity that is on the majority of bucket-lists across the world. Maybe naively I expected there to be worldwide welfare standards for those places offering Dolphin encounters. After researching the topic a little I have only found very positive or very negative views on the subject.
I am disappointed in myself as I usually conduct a lot of research before visiting such places to ensure I am not inadvertently supporting cruelty. Although I have not read anything about cruelty at Dolphin Discovery in St Kitts. I have found concerns about the size of the enclosures. This however is often a concern for every dolphin encounter centre, as wild dolphins have the whole ocean to explore.
I still can not make up my mind if it is acceptable to take part in meeting dolphins programs. I know that I would definitely do my research before considering it again. I do know that I will never forget this amazing experience.
What do you think? Any good or bad experiences or views on this?