Dolphin Pictures--Florida 2003

I've always wanted to swim with dolphins, so we took a short vacation to Florida and went to Discovery Cove. It was pretty neat, though as homogenized and orchestrated as you would expect in the States. They have a fake coral reef you can snorkel around that has some really big spotted rays, and a stingray pool containing about 50 (when we were there) smaller rays that you can touch if you're patient and fast enough. There is also a very boring "tropical river" that runs through an aviary. However, if you are alert you may find an underwater window from the "river" into the "reef" that is neat.

The main point is the dolphins though. I think they had about 30 or so. They were very protective of the dolphins, which is good of course, but limits how much free-form fun you can have to, oh, about none. Still, it was a very interesting experience to see them up close, to feel their skin (like a wet, slick, latexy, smooth velvet) and be taken for a short ride. In that 30 feet or so, I was almost washed off by rushing water!

We met Diego, who was about 5 years old. He was born in captivity in California (the San Diego zoo, I believe, hence his name). Interestingly, he likes ice cubes quite a lot, of all things. Maybe it was because they were fish flavored, since there were small food fish mixed in to the can of ice the trainer had. I wonder what he thought of all of this? Does he get bored, meeting humans and doing the same thing every day? Is he just humoring the trainer when he feels like it; does he think he is clever for conning fish and ice cubes all day long for doing just about nothing? I'd love to know.

Each swim group has two trainers and a couple of photographers. They have a pretty nice operation. The photographers have digital cameras and after the half hour swim, they upload the memory sticks into a LAN. They have a bunch of Mac's sitting around in fake rocks and after a while you tag all the pictures in your group with you in them, then go through a slide show and pick out ones you want, if any. It's insanely expensive, of course, but what the heck...

But I couldn't help wondering. Sand, water, Florida weather, clueless tourists--NOT a good combination. I wonder how many mice and Macs Tech Support goes through in a year... And the downtime figures on the LAN must be really interesting.


Introductions to Diego



Getting friendly



Splash Fight!!!



Dolphin ride



Diego and friends flying



Stock closeup



Stock flying



Discovery Cove Sign (note person swimming)