After three days of rain in Roatan and missed flights, the Curley’s were ready to get out of our hotel room and have an adventure. The break in the weather allowed for us to partake in a dolphin encounter at Anthony’s Keys Resort, which was a 15 minute drive from our hotel. We picked up our tickets and took a short boat ride over to the enclosed dolphin pens with a dozen or so other passengers. The large pens are used to train and study the dolphins, and while giving the dolphins plenty of room to swim, it keeps other marine life out and to our surprise were low enough for the dolphins to jump over and ‘escape’ if they desired.
As soon as our boat pulled up to the dock by the dolphin pens, the boys squealed with excitement as they saw the dolphins swimming close by. We were quickly ushered over to our guide, who gave the group a quick overview on what to expect during the encounter and instructed us on which areas the dolphins liked to be touched and where they do not (the guide also instructed us on where the male and female dolphin parts were and suggested avoiding touching those areas, as the dolphins might enjoy that touching a little too much). Then, without much more fan fare, we were striding into the water and dolphins were everywhere! The group was split up into two groups: English speaking and Spanish speaking. One lucky couple from El Salvador were the only Spanish speakers, so they got a private dolphin encounter. Jen thought we should have used what little Spanish we know to try and barge in on that group, but I thought better of it.
Our group was the four of us, plus three other couples for a total of 10 people. It was a small enough group where everyone one had ample time to touch the dolphins and pose for pictures. With no more than a whistle or a hand gesture (and a bucket full of fish), the dolphin-guides could make the dolphins swim right up to them and perform a variety of tricks on command. First, the dolphins laid still in front of us and everyone got to touch the top and bottom, being mindful to avoid the blow-hole and to be gentle around the dorsal fin. It was remarkable how calm and trusting these creatures were, as it permitted a bunch of strangers to feel its body. Several different dolphins cycled in to be touched and all were equally gracious and patient with its visitors. Next the dolphins would give each person a “kiss” on the cheek, which was professionally photographed. Although that felt a little staged and touristy, you can’t beat the photograph that you get!
When the boys first got to touch the dolphins they could not believe it. Both remarked how smooth and sleek the dolphins felt.
I was impressed with how strong and fast they are as we were treated to tests of their speed and agility. The trainer put the dolphins through their paces, racing them around the pen and then stopping just feet from us or leaping high out of the water. Absolutely amazing!
And then it was over all too quickly. The tour guide thanked us for coming, but hung out on the dock to answer all questions put to him. Finnegan broke the ice by asking the first question – do dolphins sleep? After the guide answered everyone’s questions, he also explained that the dolphin encounters fund the research center as scientists are still learning a great deal about dolphins.
On the ride back to the hotel I chatted with the couple from El Salvador that was staying at our hotel (his English was pretty good, hers was not). I was curious to hear about El Salvador and what life is like there today. For years I heard only of the civil war that ravaged that country. Like Honduras, El Salvador has a lot to offer, but has many impediments in its way. But, to hear this young man tell it, El Salvador should be high on our list of countries to visit.