Should you swim with Dolphins?
The number of people who want to swim with dolphins is at an all time high. Fuelled by a spate of TV programmes showing TV personalities getting in the water with them, and revealing how friendly dolphins can be, many people now have the desire to do the same.
An understandable love for dolphins may encourage people to want to get close to them. This desire may stem from the belief that close contact with these special animals can provide, at the very least, a release from day-to-day stresses and boredom and, at the other extreme, some sort of miracle cure for physical and mental illness, and disability. Such beliefs have helped encourage the growth of interaction programmes by both commercial interests and alternative therapists.
The recent popularity for swimming with dolphins, appealing as it first seems, is spawning a whole new industry. Recent news reports have shown dolphins taken from the wild and kept in captivity, purely for the "swimming with dolphins" experience, and for the money they generate for their owners.
Do you remember the days when animals were kept by circuses and made to perform tricks to earn their keep?
Do you ever get the feeling history is repeating itself?
Dolphins to the Rescue
Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark — a monster great white that came out of nowhere — had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone.
That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life.
The attack occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 28, just before 11 a.m. at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif., where the 24-year-old owner of Monterey Aquarium Services had gone with friends for a day of the sport they love. Nearly four months later, Endris, who is still undergoing physical therapy to repair muscle damage suffered during the attack, is back in the water and on his board in the same spot where he almost lost his life.
“It came out of nowhere. There’s no warning at all.
Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark,” Endris said. “It just shows you what a perfect predator they really are.”
That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected.
The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore.
Our finned friends
No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
A year ago in New Zealand, the group reports, four lifeguards were saved from sharks in the same way Endris was — by dolphins forming a protective ring.
How do we repay them?