I’m an animal lover, but I don’t usually get so “up close and personal” with wild animals!
While in Jamaica at Half Moon, we were given the opportunity to spend some time in the Dolphin’s Cove getting to know the staff – of both the human and marine mammal variety! The deep water dolphin encounter experience included swimming out into the ocean to greet and play with the dolphin duo – Toni and Reggae.
Ms. Toni and Mr. Reggae are about 5 years old and have been at Half Moon’s private cove for a couple of those years. They are cared for by onsite staff that train them, feed them, and maintain their mental and physical health. One of our trainers had spent 20+ years at Sea World in California before “heading south” a few years back – she was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, both to us and the dolphins!
It was an amazing experience, as we pretty much had one-on-one interaction with the duo. Using hand signals, taught to us by the trainers, we pet the dolphins’ backs, rubbed their bellies, danced with them, heard them “sing”, and even got a smooch – right on the lips!!
After a bit of interaction, we were treated to a little air show. Leaps and flips just a few feet from us in the ocean water. Amazing! Can you believe this isn’t photoshopped??
One of the coolest parts was when we got to help train the dolphins on a new “trick” they are learning – the belly swim. Similar to a dorsal fin ride, where you take hold of the “shark fin” on the dolphin’s back, Reggae swam right up to me, “stood up” with his arms waving out in front and invited me to grab hold. Then, he flipped his head back toward the water and tugged me along. It was exhilarating being so close to this creature and having enough mutual trust to allow for me to catch a ride.
These two were total hams (okay, me too – big cheesy smiles all around) and loved to pose for a photo. I can’t recommend this experience enough – I never thought I’d swim with a dolphin and in fact, had turned down an opportunity to do so in a pool setting (felt too caged and unnatural). But, to interact with the dolphin, in the sea (albeit a maintained cove), in Jamaica, in the bright sun and salty water, was just so special.
I came home with a new boyfriend! 🙂