I have always felt an extreme pull toward marine mammals. This is a weird sensation for someone from Iowa with no significant bodies of water nearby. Swimming with the dolphins has always been a target. Two decades ago, I got that opportunity. I had been planning a trip to Florida with my son and some friends. At the beginning of the trip, we engaged in several boat rides where we had the opportunity to see dolphins in the wild. I had seen whales on whale watching trips in California but they were always so far off. Which is how it should be, I would not want to be harassing a whale in the wild. But on this Florida trip, the dolphins would come right up to our boat. I actually discovered air as it had been blown from a dolphin’s blowhole, which was a thrilling event for me. Raccoon Poop
After departing Ft. Myers, we drove down to Key Largo to remain for two days and soon I would really be in the water with a dolphin. Dolphins Plus was our destination. This trip was planned with the dolphins as the highlight, it was in the planning for a year. I was so excited that sleeping the night before was difficult. It was finally morning and we headed to the Dolphins Plus centre. Dolphins Plus is a research and education facility located on Key Largo. While we were there the Conservancy was working with a group of pilot whales that stranded themselves in the Keys.
During the structured swim two individuals entered the water with two dolphins. A trainer was present. We were requested to get in, my son and I went . The dolphins swam close to us with their backs arched so we can touch them. This was how they got used to us and us to them. I couldn’t believe I had been in the water with a dolphin. . .touching one! The dolphins skin wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. For some reason, though I was well aware that they are mammals, I expected something cold and rubbery not warm and silky. We were instructed to perform certain activities with the dolphins. My son and I swam with L.B. and Dinghy, two of ten Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins at the Dolphins Plus facility. It was such a strong experience being so close to those gorgeous, intelligent creatures. As we were leaving L.B. hung out near the surface, just floating there, with one eye out of the water watching us. I felt so connected with all the world, making eye contact with him. After you take a look into a dolphin’s eye, it seems unfathomable that anyone would do anything to harm them.
There is still much controversy surrounding the dolphin-safe tuna issue. I didn’t know this, just like I’m assuming that most Americans don’t. Dolphin-safe labels don’t necessarily mean no dolphins were hurt or killed, just less. That is unacceptable. Since the start of purse seining from the 1950s, seven million dolphins have been killed. Purse seining, the preferred method for tuna fishing, involves the use of a large net that would catch dolphins and the most important target tuna, which swim in schools under dolphins. The idea is that the dolphins escape but they all do not. Since dolphins breath air they can be easily drowned or injured when trapped in a net. In 1990 the three main businesses, Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumble Bee, that supply 90 percent of the tuna in the US started using the dolphin-safe label, which indictes that no dolphin deaths have been observed. Observed being the key word. The government wants to loosen these dolphin safe rules, so we can import more lettuce from Mexico, the country that both harvests the most tuna but also kills the most dolphins.