Dolphin encounters

2012
07.26

Dolphins, swimming in crystal-clear blue waters are the stuff of dreams for many lovers of the sea and its marine life.

Dolphins jumping out of the sea

Dolphin encounters in the sea are every sea-lover’s dream

There is no shortage of places in the world where one can experience wild dolphins in their own habitat, either from the comfort of a boat or among the sea mammals themselves, while snorkelling or scuba diving.

In most instances, getting access to a boat or scuba gear during a holiday necessitates buying some sort of tour packageĀ  with “dolphin watching” or “swimming with dolphins” in its title.

As with every activity that brings humans into contact with wildlife though, the word “responsible” should be a constant reminding requirement when it comes to choosing who to go with.

Make sure you ask in advance about how many other boats/diving groups are present in the same area at any one time.

Ask about responsible tour operator practices and how they are enforced with regards to your activities.

How is pollution dealt with, what about overcrowding and how are the species protected from accidental harm?

Since many of these tours aren’t cheap, it is not inappropriate to ask what your money actually contributes to? Does all of it go towards covering the business’ costs or does part of it gets channelled back into the community, supporting research organisations and environmental groups that are directly relevant in the longevity of the local ecosystem?

One of the most valuable experiences in your encounter with marine life which also yields the most contributing benefits from your tour activity, is taking active part in marine research during your holiday.

Holidaying as an assistant researcher in one of many marine life organisations. Source: tethys.org

Holidaying as an assistant researcher in one of many marine life organisations. Source: tethys.org

Many non-governmental-organisations (NGOs) allow a limited number of people to participate and help with their research in exchange for valuable lessons by experts in their field of work as well as of course priceless encounters with the studied species themselves.

If you are serious about getting to know marine life better, why not actually spend a few days of your life living with it and studying it?

Depending on what’s on offer, such an activity can include accommodation on a boat or nearby area, local transportation and food.

The more organised ones tend to be more costly and activity-oriented than others with a more relaxed attitude towards participation. In some instances, you may even be able to tag along for free although don’t expect to see such deals advertised anywhere. Search engines and one-to-one communication are your best friend in this instance.

A good online resource of various marine life research organisations that operate around the world and can accommodate visitors, is the Dolphin Fund.

An organisation I would be interested in visiting one day is Tethys. They have been active in the Greek and Italian parts of the Mediterranean for several years and offer all-inclusive participation in their activities throughout the warmer months of the year.

Feel free to share your thoughts, experiences and any additional information you may have on participating in such activities via the comment form below.

Ionian Dolphin-monitoring as part of daily activities at the Tethys marine research organisation from Giovanni Bearzi on Vimeo.

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