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A Dolphin Adventure

I love animals of all types, but when the time came for me to actually enter the pool, I hesitated. I wasn’t afraid, I was just in awe of these huge, gentle, smiling creatures (dolphins always look as if they're smiling). Once I had finally gone down into their pool, they came up to me and tilted their immense bodies, seemingly just waiting to be caressed like large friendly dogs. But dolphins are very different from dogs. First of all, they weigh around four hundred pounds and they're very strong. If they happen to catch you with their tail fin...

Just how smart are dolphins?

At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has quite a reputation. All the institute's dolphins are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. Kelly took this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish-reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece...

Solitary dolphins - what can we learn?

Our own focus, however, is on those cetaceans which particularly seek out human company. In Irish and European waters at this time, that means in effect bottlenose dolphins. In general these are 'solitary' animals, which are going against the normal pattern of their species by living alone and in a restricted area. Bottlenose dolphins as a rule are highly gregarious and active animals, living in family groups sometimes known as pods and roaming over wide stretches of our coastal waters. Partial exceptions to the latter rule are the resident populations in the Shannon estuary, the Moray Firth in Scotland and...

Swimming with wild dolphins

We neither encourage you to go swimming with wild dolphins nor do we advise you against it. Each situation is different and is a matter of personal choice. However, here are some issues you might like to consider. Normally, wild dolphins do not tend to approach human swimmers or divers. As there is no possible way that even the strongest of human swimmers or divers can approach a healthy free-living dolphin unobserved or without the dolphin being able to move away at a far greater speed, all human-dolphin encounters in the ocean take place on the dolphins’ terms and at...

Boating with dolphins

Dolphins love to bow-ride boats, getting a free ‘surf’ from the pressure wave generated by the forward motion of the boat. In the ‘natural’ situation, they do the same trick with large whales. And they have no objection if the boat is small and fast, being easily capable of intercepting and picking up the bow wave of a vessel travelling at over 30 knots. The sight of dolphins leaping alongside a boat and jockeying for position at the bows of a boat has excited and gladdened seafarers since time immemorial and we see no rhyme nor reason in trying to...

Swim with the dolphins at Malta

I can’t stop laughing as the dolphin sweeps me through the water while I cling tightly to his hard dorsal fin. Spray smacks me in the face as we whoosh across the pool; below, water tickles my toes. All too soon, a whistle from the dolphin’s trainer alerts my “steed” to dive deep into the depths of the cold pool — and alerts me to hop off before I get dragged along. It’s too quick and over too fast, but I’ve just had the ride of my life. That lightning-quick splash across the pool is the climax of an hour...

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