Yesterday I had the most magical day of my life and I’m going to try my best to put it into words for you but I have a feeling it isn’t going to do it much justice.
We’ve been in Florida 11 days now and although every day has been absolutely incredible, deep down we’ve all been waiting for today. At 7.30am we arrived at Discovery Cove where we were given our snorkel, wet suit and the time of our dolphin swim, 12.10.
Whilst we were tucking into our unlimited breakfast buffet we decided that we would begin by taking the rapids through the aviary, otter and mandarin habitats which allowed you to be within a metre of all these animals, pet and feed them.
We then headed over to the ‘Great Reef’, which was a man-made coral reef covering 2.5 acres of land, home to 10,000 different fish, stingrays and sharks including 125 different species.
So we put our snorkel and goggles on and dived straight in. Well, we tiptoed in very slowly, easing our bodies into the cold water, trying so carefully not to get in the way of any fish. But I soon learnt that the fish were ready for me and soon darted out of the way.
And down I went, gazing deep into the reef, absolutely mesmerised by what was below, around and on top of me. Suddenly being cold was no longer an issue and it was just me and the fish, amazed at the flashes of colour and the variety of species and shapes. As I floated in a dream-like state, I watched the fish live their lives in their schools, delving into the reefs grottos and crevices, un-phased by my company. And then a pair of massive bloody stingray’s were heading towards me and the grace I had been carrying soon turned into a mess of screaming and splashing. I kicked as fast as I could, until me and my embarrassed face were washed up to shore.
And then I looked at the time and It was time to go down to the dolphin pool, the pool where it would be just us, the trainer and a dolphin… We were also teamed with a family from Texas but lets forget about them.
Soon we were introduced to Thelma, a beautiful dolphin who we were going to spend the next 30 minutes with. Thelma was a 20 year old mother to 4, who had lived her whole life at Discovery Cove.
For centuries, mankind have often referred to dolphins as ‘the angels of the sea’, and I was about to see just how perfectly they suited that description. Thelma glided over to us, popped her tail above water level and gave us a welcoming wave. All 9 of us, including Thelma, were soon smiling from ear to ear.
Our time began by the trainer telling us a little about Thelma, where she would respond so humanlike with nods, shakes, waves and squeaks. The trainer would shout “shark!”, and Thelma would squeal and cower. He would twist his wrist in a certain manner and Thelma would glide away about 10 metres to surprise us all with a perfected back flip. The nicest thing about it was that she was so willing to do it, with a few fish fed to her throughout, Thelma was the happiest thing.
Next we were able to have our photo taken with her, where she would kiss us and smile alongside us for a photo. She then took us separately for a ride where we held onto each of her fins and she would, so delicately, glide us through the water where it was so clear how protective she was of us. One of the younger boys from the Texas family accidentally let go and Thelma, with no hesitation or command, quickly turned around and picked him up again, this brought a tear to my eye.
I was worried that holding onto their fins would cause discomfort to her and mentioned this to the trainer who soon assured me that Thelma was quite happy to partake and that if any of the 46 dolphins at Discovery Cove don’t want to do anything, they won’t, and the trainers allow this and simply just use another dolphin.
After a few more photos and tricks our 30 minutes had very quickly come to an end, well they do say that time flies when you’re having fun.
What amazes me the most about dolphins is the emotions they can make you feel. Thelma was full of grace, with a loving and protective nature. Everything she did, she did with elegance and a smile, and it seemed that nothing could dampen her mood.
I’ll never forget the poise, pride and grin that Thelma had about her, and I will never forget my day at Discovery Cove. That 30 minutes of my life comes on par with my Australian Skydive, and I insist that if anyone is planning on a day with Dolphins, they should pursue it at Discovery Cove, Orlando. It needs no hesitation, I can promise you will have one of, if not ‘the’, best experience of your life.