I had the opportunity to experience the “Dolphin Splash” activity at Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Coral World just recently adopted 4 intercoastal Bottlenose dolphins from a marine park in Arizona. These dolphins for the first time in a long time have been given a large opened Sea Sanctuary. After reading the backstory of how they made their way to the USVI, I had to see and experience it for myself. This was not your usual dolphin encounter. This was a unique, unscripted in-water encounter tailored for me, the other participants, and the particular dolphin in our program.
We were greeted by a marine mammal specialist who was very passionate, energetic, and enthusiastic. He shared fun facts and fascinating information about the dolphins, their care, and the importance of preserving the marine ecosystems in which dolphins live. After our orientation, we met one of their resident dolphins from an in-water platform. Under the guidance of the marine mammal specialist, I had the option to continue interacting from the platform or to enter deeper water and swim with the dolphins. Which of course I did. It was great! This was a very special close encounter with an amazing marine mammal.
This experience really hit home the importance of being more environmentally conscious. There are so many special yet fragile animals that can benefit from our conservation efforts. Programs like this can educate people in areas of animal conservation, while caring for, and in some cases rehabilitating these animals. This was an awesome experience and I recommend it to everyone.