For the first time, a few month ago, we were offered, to teach a free diving course with dolphins in the Red Sea.
At first sight, from a motorboat in a tourist place, this is not my thing, but all the people who swam in Satayah’s lagoon are unanimous: wild dolphins that come to rest daily accepted the presence of man, interactions there are breathtaking.
On the way, we begin with a briefing on animal approach, safety rules, how to get in the water, etc. As soon as we arrived, we made a presentation on this species of dolphins (Stenella longirostris) so participants can better understand their way of life, and enjoy their behavior once under water. We arrive at the site, there are already 4 anchored boats.
Dolphins are there at 6am, we start the water with a school of an hundred, all students are disciplined and attentive to our instructions; most of the dolphins seem to sleep and are easy to follow, after a few minutes some insomniacs come to us. The famous meeting place, once awakened these animals are alive and even seem interested in us. The dream will end around 6:30, that’s 3 dingees of the neighboring boats approaching. We end this launching.
Everyone has images in his eyes, “the dolphins came to play with me” “It was an extraordinary encounter” “these animals are so nice to welcome us home,” etc. What a surprise! For my part, I was actually surprised of such sympathy but no one seems to have been marked by their behavior change once the other zodiacs arrived. Here I am very embarrassed to be a player in this carousel. At 9:30 that are 5 daily-boats which are added to the party, each with two zodiacs on board. These boats sell day trips. More than a hundred people in pursuit of dolphins in the promise of an unforgettable moment. Dolphins are elusive, but the boats are catching up and are quick to cast off the swimmers … At noon all the boats sounding lunch we take the opportunity to rebuild their launching, the animals try to relax by swimming closer to the bottom, some trainees are starting to realize that there is something that really does not stick, and ask me about the impact of all these boats and our presence.
Is there any answer… I’m not cetologist, but there is clearly a big problem… after my little experience, I have never seen any animal withstand such pressure, these dolphins are not here to play with us this lagoon serves as their resting area. Before the meeting, each time I crossed dolphins, these animals were relatively remote and potentially briefly curious, like most marine predators.
To my mind, that “if they wished they would be free to leave” is a false argue, because on one hand some boats prevent them from escaping and secondly they may have no other place where to go. These animals seem to have three main activities in nature: eating, sleeping and socialising. Let us even assume that at this point, they accept us during the socialization and play, they are nonetheless harassed every day of the year from 6am to 4pm. They seem to still be very resistant to our presence, I guess it’s probably that they have no other place as appropriate to their rest in the area. Moreover, we know that dolphins are very sensitive to noise,you can try to get in the water surrounded by 10 outboard motors of 90 horsepower variant constantly regime is assured migraine in 3 minutes, more the risks that this practice entails.
I attended sessions shark feeding, I saw about fifty tourists follow a whale shark, humpback whales purchased by many rental boats … All these practices are condemned by associations and scientific but those dolphins, certainly, because of their naturally frozen smile, and the profits they generate does not seem to be part of the same batch.
This article obviously only my opinion, but it seemed nice to return these animals what they could bring to many. I’m not against going in the water with the animals in their natural environment, this is something I’m doing for years, and I would be very happy to transmit that passion. Unfortunately, in some places we made mass consumer products which everyone should be able to swim and live his dream with his dolphin …
Saying you love whales and go see them in these conditions seems to me be either unconscious or to show a selfishness motivated by the lure of easy money.
Swim with dolphins or to meet other marine animals, still the dream or goal of many divers and snorkelers. It is our responsibility to be aware of these excesses and taken into account if we want to keep healthy oceans.