Swimming with dolphins

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 19 December 2007 | Views [459]

If ever I felt that I have been blessed, it was when a dolphin checked me out. In Kaikura, on New Zealand’s South Island, you can swim with dolphins. On their terms, providing them with entertainment and not the other way around. They are curious, graceful and find you boring very very quickly. I almost did not go. The day before, just as we were looking for something to eat at a local petrol station, I happened to glance at the front page of the local paper. “Shark attacks surfer” is not the most reassuring reading before a dip in an ocean full of whales, dolphins, penguins and seals. Fortunately dolphins and sharks do not mix well and I figured I would be warned well in advance if I were to become toast. The swim was scheduled for 5 am. Suited and prepped we set out on our boats, a group of 16 people. There are no guarantees but invariably, it seems, the guys at the “Dolphin experience” find these sea mammals that always swim in a herd. There they were, the unique acrobatic dolphins of New Zealand. We had to be sufficiently interesting for them to come close and have a look and ideally use us as playthings. There is nothing more ridiculous then a bunch of humans making screaming noises through their snorkelling tubes and trying to pretend they are dolphins. But this is what you have to do for them to come and see what sort of entertainment you provide. And they do come. Really close. They look you in the eye and make you follow them. You cannot of course because they are quick as lighting but you do for a few seconds. And for those few amazing seconds you are interacting, really communicating with a dolphin. They made me spin myself quite a few amazing rounds and even though I got nauseous in the end, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. After a few swims comes the other feast. When you are done and you are back in the boat they followed us. Jumping out of the water, diving in front of the boat, spinning in the air and for those moments it truly felt that we were living in a perfect world.

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