Many people dream of swimming with the dolphins, which are known to be sensitive animals with exceptional intelligence. Nevertheless, they are still wild animals, and even under the supervision of a qualified guide, swimming with dolphins can be dangerous. Because of this, it is important to keep in mind the etiquette for swimming with dolphins to protect yourself, those around you and the dolphins themselves.
As a courtesy to the dolphins, who are easily scratched and hurt, make sure that you have no sharp surfaces anywhere on your body or apparel that could damage the animal. Trim your nails as short as possible, filing them to get rid of rough edges; empty your pockets; remove glasses, watches and jewelry and make sure your swimsuit has no zippers on it. Shower before going swimming with the dolphins. This will ensure that you have no sunscreen or lotion on your body, which can adversely affect the dolphin's sensitive skin. Finally, once in the water, never touch the dolphin on its head or around its eyes.
By following your instructor's lead, you can make sure that the others in your group enjoy their time with the dolphins safely. Listen to the instructions for going in the water. Let others, particularly if they are with children, have a turn before insisting on yours so you do not overwhelm the dolphins with too many people at once. If you see someone engaging in behavior that is threatening to either themselves or the dolphins, alert the instructor or request that they stop if the behavior is immediately threatening.
Much of the etiquette regarding your instructor indirectly applies to the dolphins' welfare. For example, never dive or jump in the water, but slide in when your instructor requests to avoid startling the animals. Similarly, do not walk in the water or attempt to swim underwater, which can allow the instructor to lose sight of you or frighten the animals, and do not touch or feed the dolphins until the instructor tells you to do so.
As a courtesy to your group, and for general safety, avoid drinking alcohol before going swimming with the dolphins, as this slows your reaction times and generally creates a more dangerous situation. Some people, such as those with asthma or epilepsy, should avoid swimming with the dolphins, and at least get a medical professional's clearance before attempting this experience.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images