If you’re a fish, and the dolphin is hungry, I imagine so! If you’re a human being, swimming in the water with them, giving them the love and respect they deserve, I think not. That’s been my personal experience.
Ever since the New York Times ‘broke’ a story questioning the friendliness of dolphins, many people have asked if swimming with dolphins is safe. To me, it is very safe. It is more than safe, it’s a blast!
I asked some of my friends who also lead dolphin trips. None of them had any experience of anyone ever been hurt by a dolphin. One did say she’d heard about a woman who was rammed in the chest by a dolphin. This woman went to the hospital to get an X ray, in case a rib had been cracked. It hadn’t, but they did find a tumor growing in her chest right under where she’s been hit. Go figure.
Another friend shared a story about a whale research trip he was on. They were in the water swimming alongside a mother whale and her calf. One woman kept swimming between the two, right up to the baby. The mother whale gently pushed her away. My friend and several others warned the woman to back off, but she kept approaching the baby, wanting to stroke it. My friend reported the mother whale grabbed the woman and pulled her underwater to a depth of about 20 feet before releasing her. The woman came up coughing and spitting, got in the boat and stayed there. I guess she got the message!
It’s important to remember these are wild and free animals, and if a dolphin ever acted strangely or if I felt at all uncomfortable, I’d swim away. But the dolphins I’ve met actively seek our company, and when they tire of it, they simply give a few flicks of their tail and disappear. It is a big ocean they live in!
I find that dolphins treat us with great love and respect. I’m continually inspired by their tenderness and generosity, and envision the day when humanity as a whole treats them the same.
(c) Joe Noonan
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