Dolphins are known for their pleasant interaction with people. The majestic marine animals are often playful and friendly to humans. both in the wild and in captivity. Southern California waters are home to over 400,000 dolphins. The animals can be seen swimming in large pods or in captivity at California attractions. There are currently two locations that provide guests the opportunity to swim and interact with dolphins. Other areas provide wonderful opportunities for dolphin viewing.
Seaworld San Diego
San Diego's Sea World (seaworld.com) offers visitors the opportunity to be in the water with bottlenose dolphins. The program begins with a classroom session educating participants on interacting with dolphins. The hour-long experience includes about 20 minutes of water time with the animals. While you may not be actually swimming in the chest-high waters, you are given up-close-and-personal experiences with touching dolphins with an accompanying trainer. You must be at least 4 feet tall and 10 years old to participate. As of 2011, the dolphin experience is $190 in addition to the Sea World admission price. Wetsuit and booties are provided. Participants receive a souvenir towel.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (sixflags.com/discoverykingdom) offers guests the opportunity to swim with dolphins. Each person must attend a brief session to learn information pertaining to handling dolphins before entering the tank. The facility provides a wetsuit. Participants must be 52 inches tall and be able to swim. The two-hour program includes a supervised dolphin dorsal fin tow, where the animal pulls you through the water. Non-swimmers may take the course for $20 and observe, but will not be allowed in the water. Swimming-with-dolphins packages begin at $150 per person.
It is a common occurrence to see dolphins in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary waters. A single boat ride can lend itself to viewing several different groups of the animals. Risso's Dolphins, Northern right whale dolphins and Pacific white-sided dolphins are the most common species seen there. Because the area is a marine sanctuary, swimming with the animals is not allowed. However, boat trips can provide a majestic experience.
Dana Point also offers an impressive opportunity to view dolphins in California. While no interaction with the dolphins is allowed in the water, there are many opportunities for sightings. The area attracts dolphins because of its shoreline underwater coastal canyons that harbor fish for dolphin feedings. The dolphins can be seen as close as 5 miles from the shore.
- Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images