Before I begin with my post, I’d like you guys to watch this video!!!!! Sam roughly edited it for me, because the good lord knows I’m beyond hopeless at video editing.
….It has always been a long-time dream of mine to swim with wild dolphins. It was one of THE things in my bucket list, along with “skydiving” and “getting married on a beach” but I guess this has a lot more sentimental value to me. (ok maybe not as much as the marriage on a beach)
I adore dolphins. Their intelligence and playfulness amazes me to no end. I don’t think I will ever crease to be fascinated by them. Before I discovered orcas / killer whales, dolphins were my favorite animal. Well actually orcas are dolphins too but they’re totally different in a sense lol ok not to bore you with the science but yeah, as I was saying I TOTALLY FREAKING LOVE DOLPHINS!!!!!!!!!
I’ve seen a lot dolphins, mhmm, even hand-fed and petted them, but that was in aquariums and in places like Sea World. Where they were captive, and bred to be accustomed to the presence of humans.. they were not wild and free. I never got the chance to see them splashing about in the big blue sea, although there was once I caught glimpses of them during a boat trip. When I say a glimpse I really do mean just a glimpse though.
…So imagine the inexplicable happiness I felt when I finally got the chance to swim with wild bottlenose dolphins in the gorgeous turquoise waters of Western Australia. ;__________; One of the most beautiful places on earth.
When I’m old and grey, sitting on a creaky wooden rocking chair and looking back on my life thinking about all the things I’m glad I did, this will be high up on that list.
My day started out early in the morning.
It was cold, and I had my jumper loosely draped across my chest. My stupid expression is a mixture of extreme excitement, skepticism and mild disbelief. Oh and also coldness. Was I really going to do this? After a 45 minutes bus ride out of Perth and into the small city of Rockingham where we were minutes away from jumping onto a boat that would take Sam and I out to sea, it seemed more real than ever.
Many thoughts raced through my head…. Most of them being “Dolphins!!! ^.^ OMG OMG weeeee Dolphins!!!!!!” while some were unfortunately a bit more sadistic, like “What if I don’t see any dolphins at all? I’ve been on supposed “100% chance of seeing dolphins / whales tours and didn’t see shiat before.
…Or worst still. What if a shark comes along and eats me? That would be sad.” (As of September 11, there’s been 873 shark attacks in Australia since records began in 1791. And sharks sometimes hunt dolphins so we could be in the middle of a predator-prey situation, what’s stopping the shark from eating me too?)
Sam, for some reason, wasn’t bouncing with joy like I was. Maybe he too, was thinking about sharks, like I was, lol. His expression pretty much remained the same as above until he actually saw some dolphins… Then it went from to ….
We arrive at our boat.
There were already other people on it.
Damn, the tour group was much larger than we had anticipated. Perhaps it was the peak period for this sort of activity.
About half of my boat. I’m not a people person so this wasn’t great… but I wasn’t about to let that get in the way of me having some of the best time of my life.
Sam maintaining his expression. He is one of those people who would go, “Yeah, I’m so excited” with a completely straight face. I don’t get it. Sometimes I feel sad for people who have difficulty handling their emotions, or expressing themselves. They don’t know when to feel emotional, or rather, feel no real need to be. Life is just… life to them. It isn’t necessarily spectacular. Isn’t it boring to be so “calm and collected” all the time? It feels good to smile till your cheeks go sore and to have your heart beat real fast. Sometimes it also feels good to cry your eyes out because at least that means you’re not cold inside. How can you live if you don’t feel?!
I randomly asked him for some tissue and he handed me this packet. No, it wasn’t intentional. IT WAS A SIGN. From then on I felt convinced we would see lots of dolphins. Lol.
They handed us some wet suits and our snorkel masks. I think putting on a wet suit must be one of the most physically unglamorous things you could ever possibly do… even flapping your arms around like a chicken while farting loudly would probably look more sexually attractive.
Leaving Rockingham’s pier behind… they said we wouldn’t have to go further than a few short miles before we’d be surrounded by dolphins!!!!!
They passed around some colored belts for us to wear around our waist. We were separated into small groups of about 4-6 people, and this guy was my instructor. Here he is going over the important steps of how to act when encountering wild dolphins…
And here I am pretending to listen when actually I was just trying to take a decent photo of myself in a snorkel mask. Something about snorkel masks makes your asian nose look even more bulbous and a non-existent double chin suddenly very present and obvious.
Anyways, here’s what they told us!!!!
1) When we yell your group’s color (mine was Black Team), assemble at the back of the boat as quickly as you can! If you’re too slow, you’ll miss the dolphins.
2) Get into the open water swiftly, but gently. If you make loud splashes, you might scare the dolphins away.
3) Always make sure you are in a single file and holding onto the belt of your team member in front of you
4) If I yell, “Left arm!!!” before entering the water, everyone jump into the water looking to your right, while holding onto the person in front of you with your left arm. If I yell “right arm”, look left while holding on with your right. If you look the wrong way, again you might miss the dolphins
5) The first and last person of your group will have to wear something called a SharkShield. (They are shark repellent products that repel the sharks via an electric field that induces spasms in the sharks’ snouts which are really sensitive)
6) Don’t try to touch the dolphins. They’re completely wild and we’d like to keep them that way.
Before I could even start processing their instructions properly, I hear someone scream out, “Black team!!! BLACK TEEAAAAMMM!!! At the back of the boat, hurry please!”
and I was scrambling to shove my snorkel mask over my face. I hurriedly waddled over to join the rest of my team.
It was serious business. Everyone had to act quick and smart. This was already proving to be more difficult than I imagined. I thought I’d find a pod of dolphins all obligingly ready to play and blow bubble rings at me only a couple of meters off the shore, while I slip into an expensive revealing bikini with my perfectly svelte figure and swim around gracefully with them dolphins like I was somehow a mermaid in my past life.
Yeah… right. Svelte and graceful I was not, in my skintight wetsuit I felt like a platypus out of water. Suddenly my feet are dangling off the back of the boat (that’s me with the chipped silver toenail polish) and the coldness of the sea water hits me. I am not going to enjoy jumping into this. Shit, it’s so fucking col-
“ALRIGHT, EVERYBODY INTO THE WATER! IN THREE!! TWO….. *splash*“
Me, in my head: Omg omg now? Omg *hesitates before jumping*…. *finally jumps because person behind me pushed me in*
For the first 5 seconds I don’t think about anything else besides how cold the water is and how unaccustomed I am breathing through a snorkel mask underwater. Some water gets into my mask, and I am momentarily blinded and choked. FML I’m not good at this. It’s not something I do all that often.
I turn my head left and right. I hear the loud sea scooter that our instructor was using to pull all of us along the water with. The sea water tastes salty in my mouth. I don’t notice anything else in the water but bunches of floating seaweed and the people in front of me. Visibility wasn’t fantastic.
…And then I see it.
This HUGE, AMAZINGGGGGGG 3 meters long bottlenose dolphin just appears out of nowhere right in front of me, in plain sight. It doesn’t strike you just how big they are, somehow sea creatures always look smaller from the top.
It then proceeds to swim DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH ME!!! Imagine yourself floating in superman position, but looking directly downwards and seeing this wild dolphin swim so bloody close, I was almost afraid it’s dorsal fin might poke into my stomach because it looked sort of sharp.
That was when I thought to myself, “This is FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The lone dolphin then started twisting around in all sorts of weird angles (not sure why they did that, curiosity maybe?), posing barely less than 2 meters in front of us, and making interesting clicking noises through it’s blowhole like it was putting on a show almost. It was so so so mesmerizing to watch. Dolphins are fun to watch from on top, out of the water but A MILLION times better when you’re in the water with them!!! I’m sorry I didn’t get a lot of good pictures, it was very hard to at that point in time but you get to see some footage in the video!
So I don’t know how many seconds, or minutes passed by that I was observing the dolphin with my eyes as wide open as they’d go so I could capture every detail… (I was literally like this O____O underwater the whole time) But eventually the dolphin swam away, and it was time for us to jump back onto the boat so that other teams could have their go at trying to get some dolphin action.
….I hurled myself back onto the boat, and the first thing I said to Sam was, “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD. DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!??!!??!” (like, duhhh :P) and he was like, “Wow, it was so close, I couldn’t believe it!!!”
I thought we were already lucky to get so close to one dolphin. Heck, I was even surprised we found any at all. Little did I know that throughout the day, we’d come into contact with over 20 different dolphins from different pods and the experiences would vary so much!!!
Our boat found dolphins by having a tracker situated on the top deck of the boat, looking out for dorsal fins in the water and then directing us towards them (not an easy job!)… for almost 20 minutes we couldn’t find any dolphins at all, when they said, “Hey guys, we’re going to create a wake behind the boat which the dolphins like to surf in, so hopefully they’ll be attracted by it and come to us in a more playful mood!
HEY PRESTO what do you know it worked like a charm!!!! Out come the playful dolphins!
Our guide said that the dolphins like doing this because it’s similar to humans being on a roller coaster and having gravity work it’s magic on us, giving us that surreal “air time” feeling when we’re going down a slope. The dolphins must be bored of zero gravity all the time in the water, so this is one of the few ways they can “surf”, besides of course the naturally-created surfs of the sea. I hear in Hawaii you can see LOTS of dolphins surfing off the beach!!! ♥_♥
All these shots were taken with my underwater camera, the Canon D10! (which is now discontinued in production unfortunately) Wish I brought my DSLR could’ve taken some awesome shots!
Still, I think these are pretty good! They were jumping in and out of the wake for 3 whole minutes. They loved it!
WEEE!!!! Flying dolphin!
Here’s 2 dolphins swimming towards our boat.
Do you spot something wrong with one of the dolphins?! It’s dorsal fin is missing!!! I reckon it got severed off by a boat propeller or maybe a shark bit it off…. Poor flipper
For the next 3-4 hours or so, we cruised the waters of Rockingham trying to spot more dolphins and swimming with them! Since we took it in groups to swim with the dolphins, everyone had a unique experience and some better than others.
I think we had it pretty good because there were lots of times the dolphins came so close to me I thought I could reach out and touch em. It surprised me how ready they were to come into human contact. They could tell we wanted to play!!! Sometimes they’re just not there no matter how hard you look for them, at other times they’re all around you.
We even saw a BABY dolphin that was under a week old!!!!! ;____; It was just the cutest assfdlkf0r93wkdslk; thing EVER. Ridiculous cute overload. I was disappointed that we couldn’t swim with it because the mother would get protective over its new born calf.
With each additional time they yelled, “BLACK TEAM!!!! It’s your turn!!!” we assembled and got ready faster. I jumped into the open sea with ease after the 3rd time. Each time was never less exciting than the previous. This one time I was too excited and hurried I totally forgot to put my snorkel mask on before jumping off the boat only to realize 3 seconds later that humans can’t breathe underwater. I learned how to strain my ears to listen to the clicks and sounds of the dolphins. I tightened the grip on my snorkel mask so water didn’t seep in anymore. My heart always exploded when I spotted a dolphin swimming towards me. Sometimes we also saw none at all. I was disappointed when we’d see none, because we’d climb back onto the boat feeling a little bit down but it makes the next time we jump back into the water THAT much more thrilling.
It was a HUGE adrenaline rush.
I definitely didn’t expect it to be such a pumped up activity. Somehow I always imagined swimming with dolphins would be relaxing… magical… and soothing to the soul? Well it was magical in it’s own way of course! But I’ve seen videos of other people swimming with dolphins and I was expecting something else.
There was this specific guide on our tour whose job was different from all the other instructors. Instead of leading different teams swimming towards the dolphins, this woman worked alone. With a sea scooter in her hands, she’d swim side-by-side with the dolphins to gain their attention, then bring the dolphins over to US!!! She must have what is one of the best jobs in the world. She’d make loops around the dolphins and do all sorts of cool aquatic stunts to spike their curiosity. I was soooo jealous, because she was literally rubbing shoulders and body with the dolphins and they didn’t seem to mind at all! In fact I figured they were completely intrigued with her.
Throughout the rest of our afternoon, it was jumping into the water, looking at dolphins, getting out of the water, watching other people jump in, enjoy the boat ride and soak up some sun while others were having their go, trying to spot the dolphins from on top… We saw all sorts of dolphins – from ones that were hunting, playing to even a group of kinky males chasing a single female to mate with her. Hilarious!!!
After hours of heart-pounding, breath-stopping dolphin action, our day had to end all too soon and it was time to head back to shore… I so didn’t wanna go back
I could have stayed for another 3 hours. Or perhaps forever. Our tour guides let us have some individual fun with their $6k sea scooters to end off a great day at sea. For a second I was mortified having to face civilization and human beings again instead of floating around with cool dolphins. When you’re out there, you leave every single thought of the rest of the world behind.
But back on land we were. And before I knew it, it was all over. I swore to myself this was something I’d want to do again. And again, and AGAIN!!!!
This was the tour company we engaged, if you’re interested in doing this too!! Which, come on, you totally should because it’s a life-changing experience. If you’ve ever thought about doing it, DON’T THINK, just do. It will be one of the best things you’ll ever did. Visit them at Dolphins.com.au.
We had lunch break at a beach side cafe before going back to the city of Perth. While I was eating my steak sandwich, I asked myself, “Did I really just do that? ..Yeah, guess I did, huh? Woah.”
It was weird that I went back home in Perth, which was only 45 minutes away, and did other normal humanly things like take a shower and then talked to my mother when she went “So, how was your day?” like it was just another ordinary day in my life. It wasn’t.
It was an incredibly special and surreal day for me – living out one of my wildest dreams. ♥