Swimming with the dolphins in Mauritius is an activity that is becoming increasingly popular. Unlike aquariums where you can swim and interact with captive dolphins, this is a unique experience that allows you to swim with wild dolphins in their natural environment.
The increased interest in seeing these beautiful marine mammals also means that there are many operators that propose these excursions, and it is important to pick the ones that provide you with this once-in-a-lifetime experience without harming the dolphins. As with all the excursions proposed on BonjourMauritius.com, we have tested the activity and collected feedback from people who have done it to ensure that we provide you with an activity that you will enjoy while respecting the dolphins and their environment.
Can we touch the dolphins?
Unlike dolphins in aquariums that are trained to interact with humans, the dolphins you will see in Mauritius are wild. That means that you will not be able to interact and swim with them in the same way that you would with a captive dolphin, but the experience is even richer than that. Depending on your luck and swimming capabilities, you can get really close to them or you can see them swimming at a distance while you are in the water. We have had the chance to experience swimming between two wild dolphins and we have seen the dolphins swim underneath us. Knowing that this is their domain and we’re just lucky spectators makes this experience so much more special! So, while it is often possible to get close enough to the dolphins to touch them, it is not recommended to do so.
Is it true that this activity disturbs the dolphins?
The boat operators that we work with understand that these dolphins are in their environment. During the briefing, they will explain to all clients that they will only view the dolphins if they are awake and playing, not if they are sleeping. The entire activity takes place very calmly and quietly, the boats do not “chase” the dolphins at full speed, they quietly approach the dolphins keeping a distance between the boat and the pods. The skippers only allow a couple of people at a time to swim with the dolphins. Sometimes the dolphins are playful and curious but sometimes they just swim away. It is also important to note that contrary to the myths surrounding dolphin watching in Mauritius, the operators do not feed the dolphins to attract them.
What type of dolphins will we see?
The two types of Dolphins that visit Tamarin Bay are Bottlenose and Spinner dolphins.
Bottlenose Dolphins are grey in color and have an elongated snout, or rostrum which gives the animal its common name. They live in groups called pods that typically number about 15 dolphins, but group size varies from solitary bottlenose dolphins up to groups of over 100 or even occasionally over 1000 animals. Their diet consists mainly of small fish. Dolphin groups often work as a team to harvest schools of fish, but they also hunt individually.
Spinner dolphins are dark grey, with darker patches in the tail stock, back and throat. Usually it has creamy-white patch on the belly though this varies considerably. The beak is distinctively long and thin, with a dark tip. Spinners congregate in groups that vary from just a few dolphins to great schools numbering in the thousands. They are consistently acrobatic and keen bow-riders. Individuals have been spotted completing at least 14 spinning jumps in quick succession.
Is swimming with wild dolphins a safe activity?
Before you can swim with the dolphins, the skippers will brief you on the safety procedures. All boats are equipped with the appropriate life jackets as requested by law under the Tourism Act. The boats have a first aid box and skippers are trained in first aid procedures. The boats are equipped with two identical engines and if one engine experiences any issues, the boats can still reach the beach with the other engine. The engines are regularly maintained to minimize risks of any breakdown in open sea.
The skippers are also fully trained to accompany the clients (a maximum of 2 at a time), even when they get in the water. Each of our boat is equipped with a buoy which is worn by the skipper who accompanies clients in the water with the dolphins for security purposes and also be visible to other boats and hence decrease probability of accidents.
What are the chances that I don’t see any dolphins?
In almost all cases (90%+) you will see the dolphins. However, if this is not the case, a second outing will be offered on the boat free of charge.
If you already have Swimming with Wild Dolphins on your list of things to do in Mauritius, we hope we answered your questions. If you have any more, please don’t hesitate to let us know! We love to share all the best Mauritius activities with you so that you can have a memorable vacation on our lovely island.