Dolphin Swim Australia
11.01.2014 - 11.01.2014
It's been a childhood dream to swim with dolphins so when we found out about Dolphin Swim Australia we had to add it to our list.
This is no ordinary dolphin experience as you swim with the dolphins whilst holding on to a rope underneath a boat. This means that you are travelling at the speed the dolphins travel at and if they choose to engage with the boat and the swimmers then they swim past in all directions around you... So it is like you are one of the Pod! I believe this is currently the only experience like this is NSW and possibly the world. To say we were excited was an understatement!
Check out this underwater shot from their website!
Based in Port Stephens in New South Wales we tagged it on to our trip to Sydney, hiring a car to drive two and half hours north of the city. As we needed to be down to the d'Almora Marina to get kitted up with our wetsuits at 5.20am we decided to head down the afternoon before. January is a busy time in Port Stephens and we struggled to find accommodation that was available or that didn't need a minimum number of days per booking. Luckily Dan stumbled across the Lemon Tree Passage Motel on the other side of Nelsons Bay whilst looking online and managed to book us a room there. It was perfect for what we needed and after the drive we were ready to chill out with some dinner by the bay before having an early night.
We were up at 4am and made it round the bay in good time to find parking, get our wet suits and find the boat. There were 20 swimmers on the boat that day and we all listened intently to the instructions on how to use the harness and get in and out of the water, whilst trying not to be distracted by the beautiful sunrise over the bay.
Five swimmers and a dive master would be in the water at a time, with another dive master sitting in the net suspended above the water incase anyone needed any help. The groups were split up by ability so the most experienced people went in with the dolphins first, I guess to make sure the dolphins were happy to interact and not be scared away by someone who might have difficulty. With all our diving this meant that we were in the first group of the day. All kitted up we were ready and so it was just a matter of keeping an eye out for any dolphins.
We were told that only a few days before there had been a super pod of over 200 dolphins and so we hoped we would be meeting up with them again. On the horizon one of the spotters pointed out birds congregating over the surface in large numbers, a sign that there were dolphins fishing in the area and as we got closer you started to see where their fins were breaking the surface as they sped though the water.
On board the boat was a dolphin specialist who directed the captain on where to position the boat, they never chase or interrupt the dolphins natural behaviour so we watched at a bit of a distance and waited to see if they would want to engage with us. She would also advise if the swimmers should leave the water if the dolphins had had enough of our company.
It was very exciting as the pod of closer and as soon as one was spotted under the boat suddenly you realised they were all around us. There were at least 100 of them in every direction. The crew on board started to whoop, whistle, cheer and bang on the boat as the dolphins are intrigued by the noise.
At the shout of 'Group 1 are you ready' we got into our positions on the net, hooked on to the rope, secured our masks and snorkels and jumped in the water.
The cold of the water was a bit of a shock but that was quickly forgotten as not one but four dolphins came zooming in from the right, then three swooped in from the left. The dive master kept pointing in all directions as dolphins were everywhere. It was like being in the middle of a dolphin display team as they flew through the water, doing barrel rolls and loops to get a good look at us. INCREDIBLE!! They are so fast and graceful and you really appreciate just how well suited they are to living in the water. We had all been told to sing through our snorkels as their research had shown that this intrigues the dolphins enticing them to come in for a closer look. My singing was more like excited squeals as the dolphins came close. They must think we're very weird! As Dan was on the outside of the group he had a dolphin swim right alongside him and could hear it singing back!
Our time in the water was over too soon as we had to let the others have go too!
But we didn't mind as we had amazing views of the dolphins surfing in the waves to get over to the boat. I think they were taking it in turns to to swim with us as well moving in and out from under the boat swapping from one side to the other.
We were wild dolphin swimmers!! Woohoo!!