|Fact: We are not swimming. We are floating.|
|Zoom zoom zoom|
So we’ve got trainers being hurled out and about by dolphins in a coordinated display of relationship, physical fitness, and good training (on both parties’ ends). This is probably the epitome of the experience, right?
Waterwork is 90% the dolphin’s energy. Yes, it takes the trainer a lot of physical conditioning depending on the actual behavior in order to do the behavior well and safely. I’m not in any way saying that the trainer does nothing. But when it comes to actually swimming with the animals, waterwork is not an accurate illustrative example of what it’s like to be in the water with these powerful animals. We as trainers swim out to the area we need to be in for the waterwork behavior, and then the dolphin does all the muscle work (i.e. swimming and jumping).
|Slow motion tells us lies, like that water makes a great hat.|
1. The speed at which I ran*** the mile, which took me 9 days to complete on average
making my mean pace something like 0.000001 mph
2. How fast the car moved, which was carefully measured by Tree Blurriness Factor (but
was mostly ignored due to Coloring Books)
3. How fast time went (slowly), especially in school (god awful)
4. How fast my bike went (SUPER FAST LIKE THE FASTEST ON THE BLOCK AND
CERTAINLY FASTER THAN ALL THE BOYS' BIKES EVERYWHERE)
So a mathematic/physics prodigy I was not. Thirty miles per hour meant nothing other than that it probably looked really slow, because all the orca documentaries I’d seen had extremely slowed-down footage.
|Please enjoy this picture of me|
|One does have to wonder|
Seriously, no matter how comfortable you are in the water, or how long you can hold your breath, or how many gold medals you’ve won in swim competitions, you’ll always SUCK compared to a dolphin. Sorry, it’s true. But that’s not something you realize until you’re in the water with one and they’re like, “HEY LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!”
|Next frame: swimmer by herself with not a damn dolphin in sight.|
Of course, we’re leaving out some of the important details of this swim, like: choppy water, low visibility, jellyfish, the fact that you’ll need to come up to take a breath more often and way less gracefully than a dolphin, and oh, that no dolphin gives a #*%@ if you find a sea star.
Dolphin: ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM ZIP ZOOM QUICK CLEAN BREATH ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM WHISTLE WHISTLE WHISTLE
|Here is a majestic picture of me swimming with dolphins|
Dolphins in human care have learned that we are hopelessly craptastic in the water, and usually act accordingly. Usually. The first time I ever got in the water with dolphins was at a natural lagoon facility in Honduras during a marine biology excursion, and oh my god.
|Sarah's impression of me the first time I swam with dolphins. Derpa derp|
It’s like they were like, “okay, I know I’m supposed to swim next to you, but good lord grab on.”
|Human! Why you blow all your air out!|
I feel that dolphins must talk to each other after park hours about how awful we are at swimming:
Dolphin 2: She tries so hard, doesn’t she?
Dolphin 1: Yeah, she does. Normally I’m inspired by her tireless effort but today I wanted to rip my nonexistent hair out. And they way she lifts her entire head out of the water and gulps air like a dying fish
Dolphin 2: Just try to remember the things she does well, like fall down.
|Cool picture, scary when it happened|
* Seriously! Dolphins are awesome! Like so many other species of animals. But there is just something about those guys
** Terror, for poor ol’ me
*** Ha ha ha, just kidding. Walked.