August 28, 2009
With a playful nudge, Dali made it clear he was all play and no work as he swam in circles gently bumping our shoulders while emitting a series of clicks and squeaks that sounded a lot like laughter. Despite weighing several hundred pounds and looking enormous next to us in the water, Dali was as graceful as could be as he spun, dove and glided through the water during an amazing hour-long session at the new dolphin encounter found at the Cabo San Lucas marina.
Housed in the modern Cabo Dolphins Center, built in 2005 by award-winning Mexican architect Enrique Norton, Dali and six other Pacific bottlenose dolphins cavort with excited swimmers eager for the chance to touch the beautiful marine mammals.
Upon entering the facility, we were given a brief orientation and split into smaller groups of no more than 10 participants per dolphin. After we had changed into our swim suits making sure to leave jewelry back in our lockers and no traces of sunscreen that can harm the dolphins we were herded up to the outdoor pools where we donned life jackets in preparation.
Already, we could see the dolphins circling in their waiting pens, appearing to be eagerly anticipating the upcoming interaction. When they were released, they shot forth like torpedoes and launched into a series of welcome flips, spirals and jumps that elicited claps and shouts of enthusiasm from our group.
We sat along the edge of the 10-foot deep pool, which is ringed by a shallow lip that allows younger participants to stand while the dolphins emerge from the water to pose for commemorative photos. One by one the dolphins popped up onto the side of the pool. We learned that our dolphin, Dali, was born in 2003 and is a very playful male who loves to flirt and show off for his best friend, Merian. The rest of the program was a blur as trainers led the dolphins through a series of tricks and one-on-one time with each participant: hugs and kisses, shaking "fins," pulling us through the water, posing with each of us, and a free swim portion that allowed us to swim freely in the pool with them and touch them as they passed.
With programs designed for all ages, Cabo Dolphins has made a name for itself as one of the top attractions in Los Cabos for people seeking the thrill and adventure of swimming and interacting with the gentle and perceptive giants.
Visit cabodolphins.com for more information. Programs start at $99 US for a 30-minute dolphin encounter to $399 US for a 6-hour "trainer for a day" hands-on experience.