Monday, October 18, 2010

Dolphins in Depth

My birthday present from my wonderful husband this year was swimming with the dolphins at EPCOT. This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl; like little, little girl. So this was an AMAZING gift.

The adventure started with me waiting outside EPCOT with six other people. (Great side note here, four of the other six people were there as birthday presents too...) After talking for a little while, the dolphin trainers came out and introduced themselves and went over a few basics: signing paperwork, can you swim, questions, etc.

For about an hour and a half after that we got to walk around backstage and see how things work, learn about the anatomy of a dolphin (most important, don't touch the white belly of the dolphins who were males. The explaination we got was that you don't want to mate with a 500 pound dolphin...), and see some training and research going on.

After that (which was really quite fun), we had about fifteen minutes to change into our bathing suits and wetsuits. (For the women out there, it felt a lot like putting spanx over a swimsuit.) We had to take off all jewelry, hair ties, etc. and put them in a locker. I had an awful time getting my wedding rings off. Once we were all ready, we were lead into the top of the aquarium. If you have ever been to EPCOT's the Seas you probably have been to see the dolphin tank. Well, I was on a ledge directly above the windows you viewed the dolphins from. The trainers told us that if we slipped off the ledge into the deep water, to wave, because everyone viewing the dolphins would then see us. Not the most comforting, but at least they were truthful.

There were four dolphins; Rainer, Calvin, Khyber, and Malabar. They split us into two groups, and each group got to work with two dolphins. My group worked with Rainer who is 30 years old, and Calvin, who is 16 years old. Out first was Rainer. He was incredible! First we got to pet him; the best way I can describe the texture is as a very tightly woven, wet nylon bag. Not slimly, or even overly smooth. Next we all got our pictures taken with Rainer. He was sweet and would just float there while I wrapped my arms around him... yes, I hugged a dolphin! Here is my picture.

I don't think my smile could get any bigger... ;)
After we all had our pictures taken, the tricks began. First we were taught what to do, and then we each had a special trick that we told Rainer to do. Mine suited me perfectly, I twirled like a ballerina, and then Rainer swam out, jumped in the air, and twirled! So, technically, I danced with a dolphin.

Next, Calvin came out. It is so cool to see the personality and physical differences between dolphins! The best part is you are able to see that Calvin is younger than Rainer. Just the way that he swam, did the tricks, and interacted with everyone. I think the funniest part about Calvin is that is talked ALL of the time! He was constantly chirping and making noises. It was cute. He loved the attention.

Sadly, my adventure had to end, and after about 35 minutes we had to leave Rainer and Calvin and get out of our wetsuits. Over all, it was an amazing, wonderful, incredible experience that I will treasure for all time.

If anyone has any questions about my adventure, or about dolphins (I learned quite a bit.) I would love to answer them! Just post a comment!

No comments:

Post a Comment