So, we got up early yesterday morning… and when I say early, we got up at 6 am, left our site at 7 am to arrive at Dolphins Plus for my 10 am swim (and to check swimming with dolphins off my bucket list).
One of the interns, Jessica, did our briefing and education and I learned several things about dolphins. Did you know they were born with hair? And did you know they can hold their breath for up to TEN minutes? (I already knew they were mammals, gave live birth, had ears and were warm-blooded.) Jessica warned us that there were two babies and they were starting to get inquisitive and may come up behind us to “bump” us and check us out. She told us not to squeal or the dolphins would think that we were “squeaky toys” – their favorite kind of toy!
Then it was time for a swim. I was paired with Emily the trainer and Leo the dolphin. I got to work with Leo on some training behaviors, like making noises and shaking hands. I also got to rub his PINK belly (a genetic variant that he shares with his father and grandfather) and his back. He felt like warm wet slightly rubbery leather. I got to lay on my back and be pushed out, then lay on my stomach and get pushed in. Unfortunately I lost my balance on my stomach and rolled over to my back. Even so, I was laughing and grinning the whole time. Then I got to clap with Leo and even got taken for a ride by Leo and one of the other dolphins, which is the picture I’ve added to the blog today. After that, I got to hold the ring up for Leo to jump through – and this over 12 foot dolphin jumped through the hoop and was over 3 feet above the hoop at mid-arc. I had soooo much fun! My heart is full and I am so very grateful to have been able to do this!
Afterwards, Hubby and spent some more time watching the Sea Lions. These two animals were part of a group that was orphaned and stranded in a storm, then rehabilitated and released, but they came back and started begging for food. At that point there were only two options – euthanization or adoption by other facilities. I’m thankful they were adopted – they were very amusing with the trainers.
In total, we spent over two hours at Dolphins Plus this morning then started working our way back south.
On the way back, we grabbed lunch at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen and took tons of pictures of random things working our way from the upper keys to the south. Also stopped at Big Pine Key to attempt to see the Key Deer. These miniature deer are smaller than my lab! Thankfully, we got to see two – one buck and one doe – crossing the road. Check the second thing off my bucket list!
Finally got back to Erve (our RV) about 5:30 to look at all the pictures we’d taken throughout the day. We haven’t quite reviewed them all; we did take over 500 today alone. We joined back up with our friends and grabbed some dinner at No Name Pub on No Name Key and we all saw even more deer. The food was so excellent that the conversation at our table stopped for a solid 15 minutes.
All in all, another WONDERFUL vacation day, with two more items checked off my bucket list. Next up: KEY WEST (with more bucket list items to knock off!).