There are several dolphin-themed tourist attractions in Florida and at public aquariums throughout the U.S.
Several aquariums in Florida offer opportunities for guests to swim with dolphins (in an enclosed lagoon or pool, not in the wild). These include the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (www.seewinteer.com), Dolphin Cove (www.dolphincove.com) in Orlando, and Dolphin World (www.dolphinworld.org) in Key Largo and Miami. Marineland (www.marineland.net), in St. Augustine, specializes in dolphin-human interactions, offering five such programs. The basic program is Flippers & Fins ($65), which allows people to come right up to the pools and interact for 10 minutes with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. In T rainer for a Day ($400), visitors work alongside a trainer for four hours, while Quest ($275) allows people to swim with the dolphins in large pools. Marineland
offers an art and dolphin encounter, called Dolphin Designs ($85), in which a dolphin paints a canvas with three different colors of paint that a participant chooses.
Dolphin-watching cruise excursions sailing from Clearwater Beach, with guaranteed sightings, are offered by Dolphin Encounters (www.dolphinencounters.org).
Dolphin Encounters in USA Photo Gallery
Twice a year The Incredible Dolphin Encounter (www.incredible-adventure.com) invites the public to join its working research team in the waters off the Bahamas to observe spotted and bluenose dolphins in their natural habitat and to help photog raph them. Guests spend six nights in quarters onboard the R/V Tiburon, a 63-foot research and exploration ship. In between scouting sessions, there are onboard lectures and opportunities to snorkel.
In 2007, the National Aquarium in Baltimore (www.aqua.org) opened its Dolphin Encounter, where patrons accompany trainers in a private dolphin training and play session; guests do not swim with dolphins.
At Sea World Adventure Park (www.seaworldsandiego.com), in San Diego, the Dolphin Encounter at Rocky Point Preserve ($40) features 10 minutes of face-to-face time with dolphins during which guests can touch, train, and feed them. The Wild Arctic Interaction ($160) lets visitors get up close to Pacific walruses and polar bears before donning wet suits and slipping into 55° water to interact with beluga whales. There is also a Trainer for a Day program ($495).
The Dolphin In-Water Adventure ($160 for members, $185 for non-members) at the Indianapolis Zoo (www.indyzoo.com) starts with an educational component, during which visitors sit in a classroom and learn the basics about dolphin anatomy, habitat, and conservation efforts. Then small groups change into wetsuits and are led to training pools where they work with trainers using hand signals to get the dolphins to swim on their backs, flip, or splash.
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