The best option for swimming with dolphins in the San Diego area is through SeaWorld San Diego's Dolphin Interaction Program. Other than SeaWorld, San Diego visitors' only choice is chartering boats for tours of the ocean. None of the tours allow swimming, and actually viewing the dolphins is left up to chance. SeaWorld's Dolphin Interaction Program promises contact with dolphins in a safe and controlled environment.
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The Dolphin Interaction Program is located near the front of the park and the entrance gates. The program takes place in part of the Rocky Point Preserve attraction. SeaWorld San Diego is situated between Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Interstates 5 and 8 run near the park. Public transportation also stops nearby. Shuttle services run from most hotels for guests.
The only species of dolphins featured in the experience are bottlenose dolphins. An adult bottlenose's size varies due to habitat. Researchers have recorded their size usually at 8 to 12 feet in length. Very social behavior is exhibited by the dolphins. Their reaction to humans varies with some wanting more attention and others less. Bottlesnose dolphins are included in the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.
SeaWorld has been active over its 45 years in existence with conservation, education and rehabilitation efforts for the species as well as other sea creatures. The parks have partnered with many animal and environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund.
Participation in the Dolphin Interaction Program requires a 30 minute pre-interaction class. The class prepares guests for the experience and the dolphins they will encounter. Training at SeaWorld as well as techniques involved are explained. The program participants are also instructed in detail about the dolphin's anatomy and other facts. Feel free to ask questions on any aspect of the upcoming experience. Understanding the training and the dolphins involved are important to enjoying the interaction.
The interaction portion of the program lasts 20 to 30 minutes. Participants go into the water with dolphins for activities including training and feeding. The experience takes place in a pool no more than waist deep for an adult. Touching is allowed and guests are encouraged to do training techniques with the dolphins. An example is walking with the dolphin. This training technique involves being next to the dolphin as it mimics walking along water.
Cost and Considerations
As of 2010, the price is $190 for both adults and children. Admission to SeaWorld park is required and not included with the Dolphin Interaction Program. Refunds may not be offered depending on how close cancellation is to the actual event. Liability waivers must be signed before participating in the program. Wet suits, booties, showers, lockers, soap and souvenir towels are provided by SeaWorld. Bring a swimsuit to wear under the wet suit.