Completed: 22. “Swim” With Dolphins
*INSERT RAP AIRHORN*
I am so excited to announce that my longest-held goal (since 2009) has finally been completed.
You’ll notice that “swim” is in quotation marks because I chose to complete this goal through a program at the Baltimore Aquarium that believes swimming with dolphins is harassment, so their immersion program is sans swimming. Completing this goal in a responsible way was a priority for me. Basically, my arms swam with dolphins. Good enough for me. However, I keep incorrectly saying, “I swam with dolphins” out of sheer laziness because It’s easier to say than, “I safely and responsibly touched, played, and interacted with dolphins.”
My “Dolphin Encounter” ticket included free admission to the Aquarium, so we arrived early to explore its full offerings (neither Kris nor I had ever been).
A few things:
- So many children (moments like these validate our decision to not have kids at this juncture)
- Favorite parts: humongous stingrays and jellyfish
- Had a bacon cheeseburger at the cafe. Two thumbs up.
- So many reminders throughout the aquarium telling visitors how bad plastic bottles are for marine life. Well then aquarium, maybe you should, I don’t know, STOP SELLING PLASTIC BOTTLES?!?!?!?!?
Okay, now for the actual Encounter. Once my tour group gathered, we were taken up to a classroom to learn about dolphins. This is where I fell in love with our passionate and knowledgeable guide’s tattoo.
We spent about 45 minutes learning about the dolphins at the aquarium, listening to kid participants answer questions in ways only cute, precocious kids can, the dangers to dolphins (disgusting humans, of course), and body parts to avoid touching during our play sesh (no genitals).
We walked to the auditorium and waited a little more before we were introduced to our dolphin trainers. At last, we made our way down to the dolphins!
I need to note that I’m not the biggest dolphin fan. I added this as a goal long ago because I felt like I had to do this before I died, not because I’m really into them. I like them, but I don’t feel a connection to them like other humanoids do. I don’t have dolphin jewelry, t-shirts, or a one of those dolphin car air fresheners that dangle on the rear view mirror. I say this because despite my unpassionate feelings, I was literally smiling during the entire encounter. Interacting with [very well-trained] dolphins made me so happy.
Example of happiness:
We spent the first portion petting the boy dolphins, learning about their body, and were literally up in their faces. I am not ashamed to admit it, but I couldn’t keep my eye off of his blow hole. It was just asking for me to insert my finger. Nevertheless, I kept repeating our guide’s sage advice, “avoid the blowhole,” in my head.
During the second part, we played with some of the girls. And I showed off my Madonna arm while throwing a football.
All those one-armed push-ups are finally paying off. No really. What is going on with my arm?
After about 30-45 minutes hanging with the dolphins, we made our way back up to the classroom to have more time with our guide in case we had any other questions. We were then released to retrieve our official photo.
Before I booked this activity, I had a hard time getting specifics on the agenda. The information online is pretty vague, but maybe that’s because each encounter is different and we can’t possibly expect every encounter to be the same when dealing with animals? I mean, I get it. I went on a whale watching tour once, but didn’t see any whales because they’re whales and they do WTF they want to do, but some of my fellow tourists were causing a raucous on the boat because they hadn’t seen any whales. Jerks. It’s nature. It doesn’t work on your schedule.
But let me take this time to talk some realness.
*Disclaimer: this section contains realness.*
Though I enjoyed myself immensely, it cost $200 for my ticket. And $80 for Kris to observe. That’s a lot of money. In total, I had 30-45 minutes of up-close-and-personal time with the dolphins, which leaves about an hour and 15 minutes (at the very least) for learning, waiting, and thinking about what I was going to have for dinner (crab cakes if you were curious). The only way I’ve been able to swallow spending that much on this goal is the fact that it’s all going to the aquarium, a wonderful place dedicated to protecting and preserving the ocean and its inhabitants. Plus, our tickets included the aquarium tour, my official photo, and a sweet t-shirt (aka future pajamas).
So, yes, I had a great time with the dolphins, felt totally safe, loved learning from the trainers, and I’m happy I went through the Aquarium, but the cost is steep. Just an FYI for those who are also considering the Dolphin Encounter through the Baltimore Aquarium.
I may be poor now, but look how happy we are marching together.