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The Keys to an Unbelievable Time
“It’s just out right cruel!”
“Why would someone ever do that to a poor dolphin?”
“Oh you would be surprised in how often we see these cases, we sometimes; we will find dolphins dead on the shores of the beach. And, and not just bottle nosed dolphins but other species too. We, we found this one dolphin who had stopped breathing because someone had lodged a hotdog in its blowhole it couldn’t breath so it died…and, and this one time we found the dolphin who inside its blowhole was damaged kinda like a bomb went off or something we found out it was multiple firecrackers. Yeah you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff people do….”
My family and I were listening to a woman who was giving us a speech on dolphins and protecting them. We had gone to the dolphin research center in Grassy Key Florida, they had live dolphins in a closed habitat where they would train them and teach them how to adapt to a human environment versus the wild.
“When are we actually gunna be with the dolphins?
“Shhhh!! And soon.”
We had come to the dolphin research center to interact and swim with the dolphins but I was getting sick of being lectured. I could almost picture it now the cute dolphins gliding me through the glassy clear water and maybe if I was so involved I would win an award...or no, no better yet they would ask me to join the staff and train the dolphins, they would carry me off and cheer “Juliann! Juliann! Juliann!”
“Juliann! Juliann! ..Come on get up! Let’s go!”
My mom bursted in my fantasy and brought me back to reality. We were walking toward the dolphin pool there was a kid playground with seal swings and a dolphin shaped statue with kids piled on and parents flashing pictures of ‘their cute little babies’. There were also large signs preaching about dolphins and human safety. We came to the water…wait no… is that water? It looks like gunk! The water was green and murky everyone was pointing at a dark green spot in the water… as I came closer I realized it was a dolphin laying on its side waving its fin at everyone, it was probably one of the cutest things ever. The instructors had us get in our swim-suits then we put all of our clothes in a little bin.
“Please divide into groups with your family or party everyone.”
My sister grabbed me and thrust me to her side, then my mom and dad walked toward us, it was as if we were all little penguins huddled together to stay warm. As the instructor began to call families and match them up with dolphins I told my mom I wanted Cayo a baby dolphin. She said I would have to deal with whatever I got.
“Martins?.....your with Sasha and gypsy. Cliffords?.....”
As we walked toward the instructor I was praying to be with Cayo
“…you guys are with Merina and her baby, Cayo.”
YES!! My heart fluttered happily. The woman instructed us toward a big U-shaped white board with a ladder into the water on it. My mom told me and my sister to go in the water with the other family and instructor. My sister was very nervous but I was willing and confident..Well that is until I got in the water. As we walked in there was another white board about 3 feet under the water, we had to stand on that. The instructor blew a whistle and cheered for Merina and Cayo. I turned around to my mom she gave me a good luck wink and as I turned around this huge shark like thing was in in front of me.
Then I realized it was Cayo the cute little dolphin, he wanted me to shake his fin. So I uneasily grabbed his fin and shook it just as if it was a person’s hand. He started to make a squealing noise that made me jump. Then the instructor blew her whistle Cayo quickly swam towards another side of the platform. Then instructor told Merina to “jump jump!” Merina swam out about 4 feet and exploded out of the water and did a twist in the air. It was one of the coolest things ever! Then Merina swam back as the instructor directed her attention toward us, for a moment I was so fascinated at the dolphins then did I realize she was talking to us I made contact and quickly stood like a soldier at attention.
“Now, Merina or Cayo will swim up to you and you can dance…”
The instructor sat her arms at her hips and twisted as if she was dancing.
“…or you can squeal..”
She made a noise that sounded like a pig in distress.
“..Or you could splash water, or shake their fin.”
The instructor blew her whistle and Cayo swam in front of me I was stumbling in my head at what to do so I just splashed water then Cayo splashed back, the water was coming at my skin and my eyes like bullets I had gave up my splashing the dolphin was too skilled, I think we know who won this water war. Then Cayo came to my sister, she danced just like the instructor had, Cayo danced back he spun around in the water as the instructors cheered him on. The woman then explained to us that the dolphins loved attention and would do anything to get it so we have to give them that attention and love them. So we all began to cheer for Cayo.
"Okay who's ready to ride a dolphin?"
I quickly bursted my hand in the air like a sword in a mythical dragon. She said
“Okay, you will be first.”
"Now swim out there a little ways...and hold your arms out like a T then when they come to you grab on to their dorsel fin..."
I swam out about 6 feet and tried to keep my head above the salty water while I held my body like a T, I had no clue what a dorsel fin was but I figured it was the one on their top. The instructor told Merina and Cayo "ride" then blew her whistle twice. The dolphins headed towards me, Merina on my left and Cayo on my right. They came closer and closer I felt as if I was in the middle of a shark attack. As they swam almost away I quickly clamped my hands onto their "dorsel fin". Then I was gliding through water unwillingly. The dolphin’s strength was so powerful, I could feel the water moving under my legs from their powerful fins. I felt like I was a dolphin myself gliding through the water just doing what I was told, what I had learned to do. I had adapted this instinct for a second that the dolphins were like my family, my sister or mom or dad, I cared for them and loved them, and I was one of them. The dolphins were so powerful and strong. I was so powerful and strong. The dolphins were smooth like velvet. I was smooth as velvet. I was a dolphin for a second, swimming through life having fun squealing at the top of my lungs. The dolphins came to the platform and I had to let go the dolphins swam back to their trainers. I swam back toward the white platform my sister looked at me with acceptance,
"Is it fun?"
"Uhh ohh yeah, very!"
My sister was instructed to go out in the water and make a T.
“Wish me good luck!”
I gave her a wink and a giggle. Then dolphins started to swim towards her.
Now, I’m very good at reading people and even better when I spend a lot of time with them, well I read her like a book. She was scared, the when the dolphins started gliding her around, enjoyment, happiness, accomplishment, understanding, strength, she had felt what I felt.
Going to the dolphin research center and riding the dolphins was a great experience, I learned about dolphin safety and what a dolphin feels like. I had a blast! I look forward to going to Key West again and winning that award or…get that trainee job.