Swimming With Dolphins

Ever since the days of the television show, Flipper, people have been fascinated with dolphins. On a more serious note, there are groups dedicated to protecting these intelligent animals from being slaughtered or exploited around the world. In the past decade, with people tapping into the equity in their homes in order to take their dream vacations, more and more tourists have been given the opportunity to swim with dolphins in places as far apart as the Bahamas and New Zealand.

A LIfe-Changing Event

People who have enjoyed their dolphin encounters use terms like “spiritual” and “therapeutic” to describe the experience. They discount entirely, with a child-like suspension of disbelief, the possibility that this 12-foot-long, carnivorous marine mammal, with around 250 teeth in its mouth (teeth that are not made for chewing, but for tearing off chunks that the dolphin swallows whole) could ever actually hurt them.

Just Like Any Other Wild Animal

Swimming with dolphins, then, would appear to have a built-in risk factor (and underwater childbirth in the presence of dolphins would be just plain crazy). One never knows when a dolphin might be having a bad day. The one person in the water who happens to be the exception to the rule on that day could be harmed; the Commerce Department indicates that dozens of people have been injured by dolphins, though none catastrophically.

Even minor injuries have drawn lawsuits against swimming-with-dolphin parks, including a slip-and-fall suit brought by a woman against the Chicago Zoological Society. She accused the dolphins of spitting water at the spectators attending an exhibit (as the zoo had “recklessly and willfully trained and encouraged” them to do), which caused the slippery footing that was her downfall. She asked for $50,000… Even in dolphin terms, that’s a lot of tuna.