From tales of sailors saved at sea to the good-hearted Flipper, mythology has created a magical dolphin-human connection. Their intelligence, grace and apparent friendliness invite close encounters in captivity and in the wild.
Swim with trained dolphins at centers in Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Hawaii. A full swim is highlighted by grabbing onto a dorsal fin for a dolphin-speed spin.
Some Hawaiian outfitters allow you to swim with pods of wild dolphins in open water. Be careful not to harass them; do not touch them and wait for them to approach you.
Swimming is not the only close encounter available. Take a trainer-for-a-day program or sign up to play (from shallow water) with the dolphins.
To swim in deep water, most companies require children to be older than 8 years old. Children of all ages can participate in other programs if accompanied by an adult.
Swim with the dolphin programs are not federally regulated. Dangers to humans and dolphins go unrecorded and might include injury, disease or even death.
Make sure the company you choose uses captive-born animals instead of those culled from wild populations. Such captures stress wild pods and cruelly treat captured animals.