By Jean-Marc Claes
This is probably one of the most difficult articles I have ever written!
I have started researching the topic of diving with dolphins with an open mind, and I will never close it anymore!
How difficult is it these days to capture someone’s attention and keep it? It takes about 3-7 seconds, depending on location, time of day, etc. So that also means it mostly only takes 3-7 seconds to form an opinion and go by it! Well, I hope to keep your attention for a little more on this and make you as happy as I am!
Diving with dolphins, being free in the ocean with them, has always been my dream. As a young boy, the famous dolphin photos of Bob Talbot decorated my bedroom wall.
When I started diving around the age of 12, dolphins were far away, as I lived in Belgium. There were no dolphins there except those living in captivity. I would never go to that place to see dolphins swim in a fishbowl to entertain tourists as they watched the dolphins jump through hoops or use their noses to balance a ball.
No, for me, it was all about the ocean, below the surface, the wild encounters. Believe me, 38 years later, diving over 110 countries in the world, being a non-stop dive professional for over 32 years now and even dedicating the last almost three years to a permanent life on the ocean, sailing and scuba diving around the world. This new life at sea has brought me countless encounters with dolphins in the wild, free nature. There have been encounters with dolphins riding the bow wave of our beloved SY Blowing Bubbles and us, enjoying the dolphins looking at us, us looking at them until, with no reason, they would disappear again in the same way they came…just like that! No way to intervene, no way to make them stay longer, not really understanding them, too far away to interact, just gone and never giving me the feeling of satisfaction; these encounters were always too short, too distant.
During the many dive trips around the world, I have had unique scuba encounters with dolphins in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Africa and even in the cold waters of Antarctica. Again, too short, too little, too far away.
Is it just selfish me, never getting enough, or what is it with me and the dolphins?
During our last visit to the Dominican Republic, being there for the whale season, I had the chance to freedive with a pod of dolphins in the Bay of Samana. A great moment and, for sure, a very fulfilling experience as we could enjoy the pod for a longer time in the water. Hearing them make sounds, seeing them copy my swim movements and even saying goodbye, I thought was a very impressive experience that will last me a lifetime. Lucky to have had a video camera with me. You can enjoy the film that Karen Erens made of this experience.
After our departure from the Dominican Republic, we sailed over to Curacao, part of the ABC islands. Doing some research about this ‘new’ location, I came across the information that the Curacao Dolphin
Academy offered special dolphin programs:
- Dolphin encounter
- Dolphin Kiss
- Dolphin swim
- Dolphin Scuba dive
- Assistant Dolphin trainer
It got my attention, so I started researching the facility and training centre to see what they were all up to.
Once arriving in Curacao, I contacted the Dolphin Academy and had our first of many meetings. The meeting with George, the Head Trainer, became an intriguing conversation that lasted a long time.
The meeting ended with Karen and I signing up for the Assistant Dolphin Trainer program. We wanted to see, hear and feel for ourselves what really was going on.
Can you imagine, dolphins that live in a home, go out freely into the ocean and then come back home? And then there is us, being the guides of the dolphins, joining them in the ocean, playing, freediving, scuba diving, and communicating with them. We were genuinely interacting with them! Is that even possible???
YES, IT IS!
And that is where the story starts…
So, stay tuned and follow our story that can easily become YOUR story, as we will give you all the information needed to fulfill your dream of being in the ocean with dolphins next to you! As long as you promise to show them the way ‘home’ again!
In the next ScubaBiz.Help edition: part 2: Becoming acquainted with our new buddies!
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