Under da Sea
The morning of my Wild Side Specialty Tours’ “Best of the West” cruise, The Little Mermaid soundtrack played over and over again in my head. I could not wait to swim with dolphins like my favorite Disney princess. I pictured myself holding hands, or fins, and dancing with these fun-loving creatures.
Before we departed, I started to wonder whether or not we would actually see any dolphins. How can we be sure that they would hang around to swim with a bunch of humans? My fears were quickly put to rest as groups of spinner dolphins pulled up around the boat and began to check us out. I had never been so close to a dolphin, let alone any ocean animal of this size. I was intimidated and nervous, yet I couldn’t put my snorkel on fast enough to get into the water. I was in such a hurry that I left my diving buddy back on the boat to fend for herself.
Once I was in the water, I could hear the dolphins “talking story” and spotted a group of them swimming 100 yards in front of me. The chase was on! I kicked as fast as I could to get up close with these wild dolphins, and there I was, face-to-face with Flipper’s cousins. I couldn’t believe how gigantic these animals were. This wasn’t a cartoon dolphin with the smiley face that I had envisioned, they were much better than that. We all floated there for a moment checking each other out. To my delight, I soon realized that one of the dolphins was a baby! *Insert high-pitch girly scream here.* (But keep in mind that when I say “baby,” it was certainly not tiny and looked to be around my size.) I was so lucky to be there in that moment, so close to these gentle giants. It was such a rush.
After an hour or so of swimming with the dolphins, we got back on the boat and headed further up the Waianae Coast to snorkel. Along the way, Wild Side’s on-board marine biologist spoke to us about the various marine animals that we would likely spot in the warm waters off West Oahu. Having a marine biologist accompany the tour was great, as she made our group feel safe about exploring the Pacific and ensured the safety and well-being of the dolphins and other sea creatures by instructing us on how to behave (or not behave) around them.
The second location was filled with sightings of sea turtles, tropical fish and vibrant coral reefs. During the ride back to shore, I wondered what the dolphins thought of us. Did it make their day to spot a human up close and personal? Probably not. But it certainly made my mine to be able to be so close to them, yet feel completely safe. It was like we had a connection ─ we trusted each other despite the fact that we were completely different species. I hope to visit my friends of the sea again with Wild Side Specialty Tours. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll get that dance in.