I had chosen Anguilla for it’s idyllic beaches first and foremost, but not far behind was it’s rich and unique culture. How many Caribbean island nations can say they launched a revolution to be independent as recently as 1967? And won! They are still distantly associated with the U.K. as a territory, but enjoy much more autonomy than “Pre-Revolution”.
You gotta love that spunk in an island of only 6,000 people (in that time, the population has swelled to 13,000 modern day).
I had only spent a couple of days on Anguilla and I already felt a panic that time was going too quickly. When you work 51 weeks to have 1 week away…how can you not feel as though Father Time is a cruel taskmaster by it not being the other way around?
I had done my homework and booked a day tour on a Catamaran called “Chocolat”. We were picked up in a dinghy with about 6 other folks to sail and snorkel for a day. I had lived on a Catamaran for a week on Bimini when I went to swim with the dolphins (I never did get to actually swim with them, but we chased them around in the Catamaran and they chased us which was good enough), but this was a first for my hubby and daughter.
What a first it was.
Captain Rollins is very seasoned which was a delight as we sailed around to nearby Prickly Pear Cays where we snorkeled and enjoyed lunch. We then sailed to Sandy Island where we again took to the water.
My daughter and I with Captain Rollins (seated) preparing to snorkel. The gentleman in the blue shirt is another tourist (my hubby is behind the camera). Isn’t the clear turquoise water alluring?
Very interesting coral as shown below, but I shall not bore you with the countless photos of fish I took.
Except for this guy might prove interesting. A Barracuda, but we were not afraid of each other and he moved on (thankfully because they have a nasty bite). They are masters of camouflage, can you spot him?
We had to cut the day short because of a fast moving storm coming in and we didn’t want to end up like this guy. Just kidding, this ferry was picked up and dropped here by hurricane Luis that devastated an otherwise temperate island in 1995.
We headed to another nearby beach on my list to see (Mead’s Bay) but the storm moved in and the surf picked up so we walked along the shore until we came to Dolphin Discovery.
The day decidedly went downhill from there.
My husband is aware of my adoration of dolphins and whales, and knew I was lost to him for an undetermined amount of time at that point.
I love pretty much any ocean mammal, but especially dolphins and whales. Dolphins are second only to humans for brain power (recent studies indicate Dolphins may actually use more of their brain than we do).
I grew up watching the wild dolphins in the ocean in Hawaii. We were fascinated with each other, from a distance. Which is how it should be.
I am always torn when I feel a rant swelling up and wanting to come out on my blog. I’m torn because I think I should let it, then I squelch it because negativity isn’t good for anybody.
But what if it were good for dolphins?
So here I am wandering around the rusted tank where the dolphins are held captive (because I can here in Anguilla) just staring at them in adoration, admiration, and raw pain. It kills me to see them treated like circus animals. In the wild, dolphins live up to 40 or 50 years old while in captivity their mortality rates are staggeringly low at 8.2 years. I can get really, really mad about it if I let myself.
One of the dolphins swims up and rolls over so it can see me. We stand like this for at least 30 minutes. I wish I could know what it was thinking. Does it know what I am feeling for it?
I decide to walk around to a different spot, and here it comes, following me and rolling so it can see me eye to eye again. At this point I am spilling tears. I can’t help it.
People who enjoy swimming with dolphins, or dolphin-assisted therapy, often say that the dolphins themselves seem so happy. Sadly, but understandably, they are misunderstanding the situation. The apparent smile on the faces of dolphins is actually just a physicality, not an emotive response. It remains there as part of dolphin anatomy, no matter how sad, upset or ill they may be.
Does it just think I am a source of food? Apparently not, because when one of the trainers walked by, it still focused on me.
I felt so bad that it’s dorsal fin was torn from giving people rides in the water (this is a big tourist draw from the cruise ships at St. Maarten). There are 3 dolphins that give roughly 30,000 tourists entertainment a year at this facility. That is a lot of shows, and a lot of dragging large people through the water with a little dorsal fin.
After an hour I tore myself away. I would give anything to be in the water with them, but will not propagate dolphin captivity by giving them my money to do so. So I leave.
As an update to the Dolphin Discovery environment, it has been moved to open ocean water, but is kept by the ferry station and is very shallow. They are subject to 24/7 ferries and associated gas, oil, noise, and trash that accompany the busy pier.
I think it poignantly ironic the Republic of Anguilla that so deeply values their freedom, has a national flag with three dolphins that are meant to symbolize Friendship, Wisdom and Strength.
I think it is only when we are standing at the throne of God will we truly grasp at what deplorable stewards we were with the wondrous resources he entrusted to us here on planet Earth.
Maybe then I can swim with the dolphins.
Until next time dearest.