Friday, February 18, 2011

Etiquette For Swimming With Wild Dolphins

If you ever have the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins, jump at it!  It will be one of the most fulfilling experiences you’ll ever have.  It will change your life.  You’ll make friends you’ll be bonded to for life.  That’s just the start of the magic that occurs when you swim with wild dolphins.
Treat a dolphin the way you would treat a friendly stranger.

On one of my first swims I witnessed something incredible.  It taught me a valuable lesson I’ll never forget and want to share with you.

A teenage girl who had been living in foster care was on the same trip.  She was in hot pursuit of three dolphins who had been slightly separated from the rest of their pod.  She was a strong swimmer and aggressively cut across my path to reach them.

She reached out at one dolphin, grabbing his tail. The dolphin tried to avoid her grasp but the other two were in his way. With one thrust of his powerful tail the dolphin was gone. 

We had all been warned not to touch the dolphins under any circumstances before getting in the water.  Not only had I seen what happened, but our guide had too.  The teen was embarrassed.  Immediately our guide motioned her to surface and scolded her for breaking the rule.  She apologized admitting she had gotten too caught up in the moment—she forgot.  We all went back to swimming.

Suddenly three dolphins reappeared side by side in front of us. They were just out of reach.  The dolphin in the middle had his mouth open.  He started to shake, thrashing around under water. Little air bubbles shot everywhere.  I froze.  I was scared. The other two dolphins calmly flanked the shaking dolphin until it stopped. It all lasted about 30 seconds. When it was over they swam away.

Later, I asked the guide what the display was all about. She said dolphins don’t store emotional stress in their bodies. When the teenage girl touched the dolphin she transferred her negative emotional state to the dolphin. The dolphin absorbed the girl’s emotional energy.  The dolphin released the energy from its body in a harmless way.

It looked like the dolphin was angry at the girl for touching him.  But the guide said that it wasn’t anger toward the girl.  He was only expressing the anger she passed on to him—releasing it from his body.  The other two dolphins looked like body guards but for the reverse reason that humans use them.  They were making sure his anger didn’t get out of control and he injure her.

This is why it’s so important not to touch them.  They take on your emotional energy.  Plus, it’s only polite.  Dolphins are social beings.  You wouldn’t grope a stranger you encounter on the street (I would hope), neither should you grope a dolphin.

Very rarely is there physical contact made with dolphins in the wild.  If it does happen it should be by consent.  Silently ask if it’s okay and listen for your answer.  You might be apprehensive to make contact.  Dolphins sense that too and keep a polite distance from you when that’s the case.

Dolphin consciousness is being fully present to the truth in any moment.  When the anger energy was transferred to the dolphin he had to feel it and express it right away so he didn’t end up storing it in his body.  He had to do so without harming another and had assistance to make sure things didn’t get out of control.  

Let dolphins inspire you to be fully present to what you are feeling at any given moment.  When you are feeling strong emotions, take deep breaths.  It really helps.  It’s important to feel your feelings and express them without harm to the appropriate person(s).  

I often wonder how captive dolphins must feel when they are constantly touched by their trainers and others.  I feel very sad when I think about it.  The photo of this captive dolphin says a lot of what it must be feeling.  I can't say I've ever seen a depressed dolphin.  This poor darling is definitely not thriving.  I don't advocate supporting captive dolphins for this very reason.


  1. you seem to have such an extraordinary empathy with these magnificent creatures... lucky you!


  2. Hi Dolphin Girl, that's a very insightful article, getting into the psyche of the dolphin. I live in a part of Western Australia which has dolphins and they accompany tourist and pleasure boats, in and out. I am close like that, to my 2 pomeranians. We walk twice a day and eat together. Very affectionate company. Whispers work better than a jarring shout.. whispers get them tuning in ..

  3. Hi Geoff, thanks for reading my blog and leaving your comment. I agree that whispers are better than shouts. I heard a wonderful quote the other day "wisdom arrives in silence." I had so much wisdom arrive whenever I was silently communing with the dolphins. I love dogs too. I used to have two Bichon Frises-they were my soulmates. I believe the animals can teach us so much about life. Be well.

  4. Hi Michael,
    I am very grateful for my connection with the dolphins. I feel very blessed. Thanks for reading my post!