Dolphin Trainer for a Day at Dolphinaris Riviera Maya
This is part II of my dolphin trainer for a day experience. If you need to catch up read part I of my swim with dolphins in Riviera Maya here.
After finishing the short video clip, we went back to the dolphin facility. There we had the good fortune of participating in another dolphin maneuver.
This time, it was the boogie push. Just swim to the center, and hold onto the boogie board—the dolphin does the rest! I couldn’t believe the speed I was propelled forward with.
I think I got to enjoy this one a little bit more than the foot-push. The foot-push is epic, don’t get me wrong. I just felt like I was able to enjoy the boogie-push more because I was more familiar with what was about to happen. This helped me to relax and focus. I was able to stay more in-the-moment.
After that, we took another break back at the lounge. We watched a brief clip about the educational programs Dolphinaris coordinates. They teach local students about the repercussions of environmental pollution. They also collaborated with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Cornell University to help the top veterinary students in the country get a hands-on experience with sea mammals.
When we were done with the video, we were asked to bring our t-shirts with us. Apparently, the dolphins have an artistic side to them, at least according to Juan.
Using non-toxic paint, they attached a paintbrush to the dolphin’s noses. They then bobbed their head around to create what can only be described as a Jackson Pollackesque abstract expressionist masterpiece. At least I thought so, in a wow-that’s-better-than-me kind of way.
Now we went back for lunch. I ordered some delicious grilled steak, chicken, and shrimp tacos. One of each. I had an ice-cold Dos Equis as a beverage. After chatting with a family from Indiana—mom, aunt, and son—we went back to the dolphin facility.
Now was our chance to dive. They place a mask with a scuba mouthpiece and hose (the tank stays on land) and after they put on a weight belt, you sink to the bottom. There you can observe the dolphins in their own element. It takes a moment or two just to remember that you don’t need to go back up to breathe. Having never scuba-dived before, I found the whole experience to be very stimulating and novel.
They asked us to bring our towels because we were going to examine their feeding routine. We got to see how much each dolphin is fed per day. Everything is monitored. If dolphins skip a meal or even exhibit irregular behavior, it is recorded and later evaluated.
Then it was back to the dolphin facility one more time, for our last dolphin maneuver. This time, we got to try the belly ride. The dolphin would come to you, belly up, and you hang on to both pectoral fins for the ride. Teaming up with a dolphin, successfully, is a great feeling.
After we all had a try at the belly ride, Juan taught us a few hand signals. Dolphins don’t listen, per se, to humans. What they do is look for hand signals. They can even understand “gesture sentences”. Juan taught us a hand gesture that started off with our right hand, with two pointed starting off high, and finishing low. We all did that—every group. And in unison, the dolphins gave us their grand finale.
In unbelievable concert, the dolphins disappeared underwater and all jumped out from different angles. They would flip, reenter, and pop out from a different side and repeat. Their skills of synchronization and organization were truly masterful.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
I can now tell people I have been a “dolphin trainer for a day”. Who else can make that claim? They even gifted us an honorary “dolphin trainer diploma” to bring home as a keepsake.
If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime vacation experience, look no further than Dolphinaris Riviera Maya. It’s fun for literally everyone. There isn’t a travel attraction more universally beloved by its visitors than swimming with Dolphins in Riviera Maya.