BAHAMAS DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS
 
Header

 
 
Text and Photography by Bill Harrigan

aking a deep breath, I kick for the white sand, 20 feet below. Halfway to the bottom, a group of five dolphins overtake me, two on the left and three on the right. They swim with a casual grace unmatched by any other creature in the sea. I am a reasonably good swimmer, but, by comparison, I am a lumbering, clumsy life form clearly out of my element.
For an instant we hang head-to-head in the crystalline water, eyeing each other with unabashed curiosity. While they watch, I roll around to the left and back again to the right. The dolphins react immediately, banking around to see more. I arch my back and try a loop. They like that too, and top it by zooming beneath me in a close formation that would leave the Blue Angels green with envy-two of them upside down and one swimming on its side. I surface and float there, catching my breath while the dolphins recharge their lungs on the fly and head off to visit another snorkeler. I make a quick count and come up with 14 Spotted Dolphins, part of a large pod that lives in the area. The water rings with their rapid clicks and squeals as they cavort all around us. A tightly bunched trio passes beneath me, pectoral fins always touching, like children holding hands to cross a busy street. A mother brings her calf close by, and watches indulgently as the little one makes a pass by my camera. Another group of seven or eight cross ten feet in front of me, the sunlight rippling exquisitely along their flanks. After 25 minutes, the dolphins begin to drift away. But the encounter has been so exhilarating that it feels like we've been in the water for hours.
Thirty years ago, swimming with wild dolphins was a rare event, and it was usually an individual animal rather than an entire family unit. Now dolphin encounters are occurring more frequently around the globe. The Bahamas, though, are the center of activity. Nowhere else in the world can you find more opportunities to swim with these beautiful marine mammals.

A diver receives a kiss form a Bottlenose Dolphin.

Today we are off the island of Bimini, on the Great Bahama Bank, with Bimini Undersea. They have developed a special relationship with the pod that roams the flat north of Bimini, but swimming with wild dolphins is not a guaranteed proposition. The dolphins decide when to share their world with us. Even so, Bimini Undersea enjoys a success rate for their Wild Dolphin Excursion that tops 80 percent.
Do you have to be an expert snorkeler to enjoy an encounter with wild dolphins? No, you can experience the thrill even if all you do is float at the surface wearing a life jacket and watching through your face mask. They do like to play, though. If you are active in the water, the dolphins respond with enthusiasm.

The live-aboard dive boat Bottom Time II has been introducing snorkelers to the joy of swimming with dolphins off Grand Bahama Island, at White Sand Ridge, on the Little Bahama Bank for so many years they seldom have to go looking for the pod. A dolphin encounter is simply a matter of pulling anchor in the morning. The dolphins usually show up ready to play. Sea Fever also visits the area regularly and has been extremely successful in their quest for quality time in the water with the dolphins. In fact, both boats offer trips specifically geared toward dolphins, with more than half of the diving time dedicated to dolphin encounters. Nekton Pilot's Bahama Adventure itinerary also includes a stop here to try a swim with the dolphins. In addition to the White Sand Ridge, Bottom Time II and Sea Fever occasionally visit the dolphin grounds off Bimini.

Off Grand Bahama, the fun often begins on the way to the dive site.
In addition to these areas, wild dolphin encounters take place regularly in a number of other locations throughout The Bahamas. Blackbeard's Cruises has been successful in putting snorkelers with dolphins in the waters around Orange Cay. Small Hope Bay Lodge has been meeting dolphins in the clear, freshwater river that splits Andros Island in two, in addition to open water encounters. Your chances of a dolphin encounter are also good with any of the Abacos dive operators. For example, Brendals Dive Center offers wild dolphin dives as a regular specialty trip.


A different kind of dolphin encounter takes place at Lucaya on Grand Bahama, where the Dolphin Experience hosts four programs, including an open water dolphin dive in conjunction with UNEXSO. The uncertainty of a wild encounter is eliminated here, where divers, snorkelers, and even waders are introduced to dolphins in controlled circumstances. Sixteen Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins are involved in the program, eight of them born under human care in Sanctuary Bay at Grand Bahama. On UNEXSO's Dolphin Dive, two of the dolphins join a maximum of ten scuba divers for an open ocean release.

This unique experience provides every diver with a series of one-on-one encounters as the dolphins circulate among them. The Dolphin Close Encounter is a chance for anyone, even non-swimmers, to interact with dolphins while sitting on a partially submerged platform. The Dolphin Swim gives six snorkelers the opportunity to swim with dolphins in the protected waters of Sanctuary Bay. The fourth program, which has a minimum age requirement of 16 and is limited to four participants, is an all-day, in-depth Dolphin Assistant Trainer course that provides a fun and educational introduction to dolphins and their care. The UNEXSO Dolphin Dive and all three Dolphin Experience programs are by reservation only and they are extremely popular, so book your space well in advance.

If a dolphin encounter fills you with a sense of shared intelligence, you're not alone. When you swim with dolphins on their home ground, you begin to appreciate their mastery of the ocean. Look one right in the eye as you glide through the water together and you'll see something of yourself mirrored there. Wouldn't you love to speak their language?

DOLPHIN OPTIONS
(While other Bahamas dive operators and liveaboards offer dolphin encounters, the operations listed here are specialists in this area.)
ENCOUNTERS WITH WILD
SPOTTED DOLPHINS
Bill and Nowdla Keefe's
Bimini Undersea
(800) 348-4644
www.biminiundersea.com
Brendals Dive Center
(800) 780-9941
www.brendal.com
Bottom Time Adventures
Bottom Time II
(800) 234-8464
www.bottomtimeadventures.com
Nekton Diving Cruises
Nekton Pilot
(800) 899-6753
www.nektoncruises.com
ENCOUNTERS WITH
BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS
UNEXSO
(800) 992-3483
www.unexso.com
 
BAHAMAS DIVER ON-LINE Table of Contents

THE BAHAMAS EXPERIENCE
One Nation with a World of Diving Opportunity
 
A PARADE OF MARINE LIFE
Grouper Spawns, Lobster Marches/Rick Frehsee
 
SHARK DIVING
Choose Your Thrill/Bill Harrigan
 
FREEPORT/GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND
A Buffet of Experiences/Rick Frehsee
 
BAHAMAS DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS
Meeting the Ocean Masters/Bill Harrigan
 
NASSAU/PARADISE ISLAND
An Underwater Wonderland/Michael Lawrence
 
OUT ISLANDS OF THE BAHAMAS
The Stuff of Dreams/Michael Lawrence
 
TEN REASONS TO TAKE THE WHOLE
The Difference is in the Destination/Bill Harrigan
 
WALLS AND BLUE HOLES
Vertical Descents, Decorated Caverns-Turning
 
RAPTURE OF THE WRECKS
Fascinating at Any Depth/Bill Harrigan
 
EXPLORING THE BAHAMAS BY LIVE
Superb Diving and Absolute Convenience/Bill Harrig
 
BAHAMAS BY SNORKEL
Intimate Adventures/Michael Lawrence
 
BAHAMAS DIVING ASSOCIATION
Dive Operators and Liveaboards that Bring You the
 
Book Now
select any criteria or none and search
Choose By Island (optional)
Select Departure Date (optional)
Choose By Dive Operator (optional)
Not sure where to go? Just click "Search" or "Hot Deals" and Browse!
 

Tiamo Resort
 
Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas
 Visit our website for current specials and deals! http://www...
Neal Watsons Bimini Scuba Center
 US #: 964-615-1011 Island: 242-347-3500
Cat Ppalu Cruises
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Dive Exuma
 A PADI 5 Star Dive Resort offering dive trips, PADI courses,...
Brendal's Dive Center & Water Sports International
 Brendal has been awarded the prestiges Bahamas Tourism Caciq...
Deep Water Cay
 
Sea Dragon (Exuma Cays, Conception Island)
 "Sea Dragon" is a Live-aboard Dive vessel for groups of eigh...
Carib Dancer (Part of the worldwide Dancer Fleet)
 The Carib Dancer is the newest addition to the Dancer Fleet ...
Bimini Undersea
 SCUBA Diving, Snorkeling, and Wild Dolphin Adventures on the...
Dive Time
 Our concept is simple; we take small groups on a purpose bui...
Bimini Big Game Club PADI Dive Center
 Coming Soon!
Treasure Cay Resort
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Froggies Out Island Adventure, Ltd.
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Riding Rock Resort
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Small Hope Bay Lodge
 ALL INCLUSIVE! For 50 years, Small Hope has been providing p...
Seafari Bahamas @ Club Med
 Located at Club Med, San Salvador
Blackbeard's Cruises
 We offer weekly scuba diving liveaboard cruises.
Sunn Odyssey Divers
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Valentine's Dive Center
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Aqua Cat Cruises
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
DIVE ABACO!
 Temporary Relief From Reality Since 1978! Advance reservati...
Undersea Adventures-USA Travel
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Dive Guana
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
UNEXSO
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...
Stella Maris Watersports
 We offer many resort-based dive operations...

Bahamas Diving Assocation
US Address:
2101 S Andrews Ave, #201
Fort Lauderdale , FL 33335
Toll-Free: 1-800-866-D...
   
  Request a Quote Now Click HERE to Request on On-Line, or Call 1-800-866-3483
  Take our Survey: Tell us what you think!

Nassau/New Providence
  Home the sharks, wrecks, walls and the nation's captitol with impressive diving...
Abacos
  Encompassing many smaller cays, this is diving paradise...
Freeport/Grand Bahama
  Home to dolphins, wrecks, sharks, reefs and more...
 
 
Bahamas Island Tour | Our Videos | On-Line Dive Guide | Request a Quote | BDA Member Listings | General Bahamas Info | Take our Survey
 
Some images Copyright Stephen Frink
© 2008 Bahamas Diving Association/Bahamas Ministry of Tourism * Site by Cline Group/William Cline
 
Choose Your Language: bda  bda  bda  bda  italian  german  french