Before I begin today's post, you must know the background story for this trip. When Katie was in Kindergarten her class made a book in which each child drew a picture of what they wanted to be when they grew up. It was filled with ballerinas, firemen, and teachers--until you got to Katie's page. She wanted to be a dolphin when she grew up. Now, all good parents are supposed to tell their children they can be anything they want to be when they grow up. Unfortunately technology has not afforded us the opportunity for "species change" operations as of yet, so it put me in somewhat of a dilemma. Since I couldn't encourage her to BE a dolphin, I encouraged her to save up money to SWIM with a dolphin. I opened a savings account in 2005 and put birthday money, Christmas money, and $10.00 here and there and promised her that when she was 8 I would take her to swim with dolphins. My friend Shelli and her husband Ernie went to a spectacular place for their honeymoon in the Keys called Theater of the Sea. Shelli said she knew we would love this place because it had so many opportunities for animal encounters for Katie (our nature lover) and they rescue animals (and anyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am about that). So I looked them up on the Internet and was impressed with how affordable it was and the fact that the animals are in REAL ocean lagoons--not man made pools. I booked the trip and today's post is about the dolphin swim. I'll post the Sea Lion swim soon--I can't take too much time away from my classes!
This is the sign at the front entrance. I was tingling with excitement when I saw it.
This is one of the several rescued kitties roaming the property. It was cool because it had a Mohawk--probably due to matted fur having to be removed upon rescue (I've seen that before when I worked for the Humane Society). What was doubly awesome was that the kitties roamed freely and weren't trying to eat the parrots--who were also roaming freely, or the iguanas--you guessed it--roaming freely!
This picture has three sea turtles (two of them blend quite well with the rocks) and one of them is wearing a life jacket because it's injury prevented it from being able to reach the surface for air on its own. I never knew they came in turtle sizes!
This is two of the MANY rescued parrots on the property. They seem to have no problem with public displays of affection. Their parrot show was very cute.
This is me and Katie waiting to go and have our dolphin swim. I was 80% scared and 20% excited. Katie was just 100% stoked!
This was our swim partner Stormy. He was 25 years old and 55o pounds and had two sons that were born in the park Twister and Sherman. I was a little intimidated by his size and the fact that the lady told us he was their dominant male dolphin. "Dominate" usually equals aggression--but Stormy turned out to be a sweety.
This is me and Stormy going for our buddy swim around the lagoon. He was making cool noises at me with his blowhole the entire time. I have no clue what he was saying, but he sounded happy.
Then Stormy gave me a dorsal tow back to the beach. I was amazed at how powerful he was. I didn't know if I could hold on tight enough he was going SO fast.
Next Katie had her turn to buddy swim and she said he was chirping at her also. I can't believe how brave she was to have her little 64 pound self swimming beside a 550 pound dolphin!
She loved the dorsal tow and the look on her face in this picture proves it! After this Stormy took off and disappeared for a few minutes because his sons were performing a show in the next lagoon (separated by a gate) and he went to go and watch them for a few minutes. What a good dolphin daddy he was! The trainers just asked us to get out of the water until he came back because they don't reprimand the dolphins or force them to do anything they don't want to do. In a few minutes he was popping his head up by the beach waiting for us to get back in and swim with him.
Next Stormy gave us kisses--what a flirt! Scott says this the only other guy he approves of me kissing.
Katie and Stormy sitting in the Sea...K-I-S-S-I-N-G...
Then we got Stormy hugs! Dolphins are awesome!
Katie really loved the hug part--she kept accidentally covering his eye and blowhole. Stormy was very patient and seemed to know she didn't mean to.
This is Stormy and I slow dancing. I was playing "What A Wonderful World" in my mind's iPod.
This is Katie fast dancing with Stormy. It looked sort of like the Twist...
We (and another little girl who swam with us, but we didn't know) gave Stormy a goodbye rub...
And then a goodbye wave.
Then we were off to have some lunch and explore the park before our Sea Lion swim. I 'll post those pictures soon.