Ireland is home to many wild bottlenose dolphins. Respect for the animals and their habitat is necessary if you plan to swim with the wild dolphins of Ireland. Human-dolphin interactions can be special encounters, as dolphins are highly intelligent mammals. Apart from swimming with wild dolphins, you can watch dolphins in their natural habitats on a sailboat excursion such as Dolphin Watching on the Shannon.
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Position yourself in a location where wild dolphins live and play, but within reasonably safe terms. Wild dolphins who swim into shallow waters near the shore are at risk because of possible harm by humans, but this is the best option for keeping yourself safe. Staying within a reasonable distance to the shore is the best location to meet wild dolphins. It would be wise to wear a wetsuit to protect yourself while in the ocean.
Allow the dolphins to decide if they would like to approach you. When attempting to swim with wild dolphins, it is entirely up to the dolphin and not the other way around. Dolphins can swim much faster than humans, so if you approach them when they are not ready or scare them in any way, off they will go.
Allow a dolphin to come near you if it locks eyes with you or decides to circle around you. This means that the dolphin is giving you an open invitation to play, but respect its space. It is important that other individuals in your group do not interfere with the interaction taking place between you and the dolphin. The dolphin has chosen to trust you, and if others step in, that bond could be broken and it will swim away.
Restrain yourself from reaching out and touching the dolphin when it comes near you. Although human beings are used to touching things with their hands, dolphins are not this way. Dolphins have extremely sensitive sonars that allow them to sense your bone structure and even what you ate for your last meal. This is not to say that in your meeting with the dolphin, you cannot touch it at all, but do not do so right away.
Tips and warnings
- Observe the natural behaviours of the wild dolphins. Do not interfere with their space or attempt to chase them when they swim away. You will not catch up to them even if you try.
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