When Dolphins Call
“Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I love this quote from Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day. The ever-gentle reminder that life is short and we are here to experience the best of it.
It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day madness of this world (there is lots!) that we can easily lose sight of why we’re really here and most importantly: Our dreams. Or callings. Or whatever you want to call those inner wishes of the soul.
That’s why I decided to follow one of my life’s greatest dreams. To swim with dolphins in the wild.
There seems to be a collective curiosity about dolphins among us humans, which dates back as far as records began, and swimming with them is on a lot of people’s wish lists. I can’t explain why this is, only that for me, I started having actual dreams about swimming in the ocean with wild dolphins (and whales!) years ago. These ‘encounters’ were so vivid and intense that they felt absolutely real. I didn’t really know why I was having these dreams other than realising this was something I strongly desired to experience in this lifetime.
Flying to Bimini, The Bahamas was like a dream in itself, the first glimpse of the turquoise water and the tiny slither of a sand island was enough to blow my mind. I’ve never seen water that colour!
When I arrived at WildQuest, on the North Island, it was like being greeted by long-lost family members who instantly welcomed me into the ‘pod’. To feel so safe and ‘at home’ so quickly is really reassuring, especially when traveling alone. During the week I experienced how the crew and guests all share a really special connection together, which seems deepened by the shared dolphin encounters.
There is so much I could tell you about the beautiful paradise island, the friendly and welcoming locals, the incredible WildQuest crew and stunning oceanic setting, the gleaming white catamaran, the most delicious and healthy FOOD…don’t even get me started. But…I’m going to tell you about the dolphins and living my dream.
Meeting the dolphins underwater for the first time is an out of this world experience. We were lucky enough to encounter a pod of bottlenose dolphins feeding, along with lots of nurse sharks grazing the ocean floor. They were beautiful to watch as they dove down to forage for small sea creatures, including sea snakes, and then would come the surface to breathe.
Later we came across a huge pod of around twenty to thirty Atlantic spotted dolphins that were up for hanging out and playing with us. Being in the ocean with them in their own natural environment is like entering another dimension. They dove down and swirled back up in amazing synchronisation and unbelievable co-ordination, at times moving so fast it’s incredible they weren’t bashing into each other or us.
Evidently the experts of the ocean, they’re mesmerising to watch gliding through the water spinning around each other and us, scanning us with their sonar clicks and whistles. They’re like nothing I’ve ever experienced and to be so close and see them looking right at me whilst almost touching is beyond words. Just awesome.
At one point I was literally surrounded by dolphins, everywhere I looked, swirling all around me and literally brushing past me. That was the moment I realised I was ‘living’ exactly what I’d dreamt about, only this time in full on reality. Wow.
Back on the boat after what felt like hours of dolphin time, everyone was fully beaming and high vibing. The biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. All of us with amazing stories of the dolphins and how they connected with us.
I know I’m incredibly lucky to say we encountered dolphins every day of the trip.
Being in the water with them, there’s a strong sense of being in the presence of incredibly intelligent, gentle and sentient beings. To witness them in such a respectful way is certainly an honour, and I feel so grateful and privileged to have had this experience.
I’m a huge nature and wildlife lover, with respect for all living creatures, but there’s something about looking into the eye of a dolphin and sensing them looking right back at you with a similar curiosity that feels like a powerful reminder that we’re by no means a ‘superior’ species on this planet, and it’s humbling to be in their presence.
Back in the human world, life feels intensified. And in my mind I keep going back to that peaceful underwater blue kingdom where everything seems to move with an ease and grace, flowing together in a majestic harmony.
Maybe, as humans we have a lot to learn from the ocean and its inhabitants and I wonder, with their joyful interactions and purposeful connection with us, whether these super intelligent beings are trying to show us a different way.
Sadly the ocean, which covers more than 70 percent of our planet, is facing huge issues, in fact a ‘planetary crisis’, caused by humans, with plastic, net entanglements and pollution, among other issues, killing many species including dolphins and whales. Not to mention the dolphins and marine life still being held in captivity for human entertainment, a reality which is beyond heartbreaking. It’s easy when you live far from the ocean to think, it’s nothing to do with me. But this week, for me, it hammered home in a beautiful way and made me think if only each and every human could experience the magic of the ocean in all its wild glory, we’d maybe have a different perspective of our planet and our role in protecting it.
This trip was very significant in my life and one I certainly won’t forget.
All of life is wild and precious, and for me, fulfilling this dream feels like just the start of what I plan to do with mine.