Dolphin Encounters pays 15% for interactive programs


BLUE LAGOON ISLAND -- One of Nassau/Paradise Island's most popular attractions also can prove to be a profitable venture for travel agents. Dolphin Encounters pays 15% for its interactive dolphin programs.

A 20-minute ferry ride takes travelers to Blue Lagoon Island, home to 15 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The two most recent additions were born in September and October, and the matriarch of the clan is Princess, a 32-year-old dolphin.

Dolphin Encounters makes it a point to let travelers know its programs should not be considered shows.

Travelers interact with dolphins in the Bahamas.Rather, Dolphin Encounters touts the interactive and educational nature of its excursions.

Before visitors participate in any of the programs, they attend a lecture about dolphins. Trainers offer background information about the facility as well as how guests should interact with the dolphins.

It is OK to give a dolphin a belly rub, and in fact, dolphins have belly buttons. This factoid also serves as a guide to interacting with the creatures. The belly button is a stop sign, and Dolphin Encounters tells participants to not go below the belly button.

Other fun facts for visitors -- a dolphin's eyes, nose and mouth are the most sensitive areas; they have 88 to 120 teeth, and their tail is quite powerful. They can use it to travel 20 to 25 miles per hour.

Guests have the option of choosing from three programs. They can be merely observers for $15. The rate covers roundtrip transportation from Paradise Island to Blue Lagoon, the lecture and observing the dolphins and guests.

Observation participants are not allowed on the platforms or in the water with the animals.

The program ranges from three to three-and-half hours, including the boat ride. Children 3 years of age and younger can observe for free.

The Dolphin Encounter costs $75 and includes the boat ride, the lecture and interaction with one or more dolphins.

Participants start out in a shallow water platform, where they get a quick greet-and-meet with the dolphins. They are then split into smaller groups and head to a platform. Participants sit on the edge of the platform waiting for their turn to interact with the dolphins.

The wait goes by pretty fast as the dolphins shake hands, dance, squawk, eat, splash and generally ham it up for their guests all at the command of a trainer.

Be prepared to get wet, and the more squeamish you seem, the more likely you are to get splashed by your new buddies.

Participants spend about 10 to 15 minutes in waist-deep water during their interaction, where the nicest part seems to be rewarding the dolphin with a soft belly rubdown.

The program takes about three to three-and-half hours, including the boat ride. Children 3 and younger go for free but must be accompanied by a paid adult to enter the water. Children 4 and older must purchase an encounter ticket. Dolphin Encounters recommends that children 10 and younger be accompanied by a paid adult in the water.

The facility also advises travelers to not bring camera equipment that is not waterproof on the encounter platforms.

The Dolphin Swim Program costs $145 and features the boat ride, the lecture and interaction with one or more dolphins in water that is "too deep to stand."

Highlights include a pet and feed session, a kiss from a dolphin, dancing with a dolphin and having a dolphin jump over the swimmers. The session concludes with a "footpush" across the water by the animals.

The program runs about three to three-and-half hours, including the boat ride, and guests spend about 30 minutes with the dolphins.

Participants must wear life jackets; they also have the option of renting a wet suit.

Visitors can use waterproof cameras during the swim, but camcorders are not allowed in the water. Fins, masks and snorkels are also not allowed.

The minimum age for participants is 4 years old; a paid adult must accompany children 4 to 12 in the water.

Dolphin Encounter advises travelers to make reservations weeks in advance. The firm suggests a week in advance for the encounter program and six to eight weeks in advance for the swim program.

In addition to Dolphin Encounters, Blue Lagoon and Stingray City offer tours on Blue Lagoon Island. Guests can attend a dolphin encounter, have lunch, snorkel with stingrays and relax on the island all in one day. The three firms operate separately, but guests can combine each activity.

Dolphin Encounters also offers a wedding package that includes two dolphins in the wedding ceremony. The price is $3,000.

Dolphin Encounters
Phone: (242) 363-1003
E-mail [email protected]

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