Swimming with dolphins in the wild is a dream come true for many of us, but is it ok to take a boat out and jump in with them?
When I arrived in Mauritius, my taxi driver asked me if I would like to swim with wild dolphins. I said yes, of course, but as I began to ponder what that actually entailed.. he quickly called his guy and arranged a trip for me.
Dolphin watching is big in Tamarin Bay on the west coast of Mauritius. The whole town is sprinkled with dolphin decorations on everything, and I can only imagine how much money this has generated for the local economy.
I arrived around 8 am and boarded a small boat that could hold maximum 22 people. There were only about 12 people on the boat. We headed north into deeper water, and eventually caught up to about 6 other small boats. The dolphins popped up, and those who chose to could grab a mask and jump in with the guide.
When the bubbles faded, I began to make out the shapes of dolphins below and to my side. There must have been at least 30 spinner dolphins. I turned around and they were right behind me coming up for air. Just as fast as they came they had left. Within 3 minutes, we were instructed to get back in the boat to catch up to them and jump in again two more times.
After the third time, we visited a snorkel spot. I am not a coral expert, but the reef seemed damaged and there were not as many fish as I was expecting to see. Apparently, boats are not being careful about where they drop their anchors.
Although, it was exciting to swim with wild dolphins, I can’t help but wonder how this is impacting their behavior and the reefs. Does the noise pollution from the boats affect them?
I came across a few past projects on the web that studied this dolphin population and it inspired some regulations on the marine activities, but I’m not sure what the current situation is.
From what I saw, there is room for improvement here for both the animals and the people. I feel compelled to help in some way or another. If you have any information or comments please feel free to let me know.