The Dolphin Circus

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August 26th 2015
Published: June 2nd 2017
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This morning we've arranged to go dolphin watching. Our skipper is very confident that we'll actually see dolphins, and told us when we booked that if we don't see any he'll give us our money back. We have to pay him in cash. We don't have enough with us, and our reliable electronic devices tell us that the nearest ATM is 20 kilometres away. We go to reception to ask if this is right. We're glad we did - it seems that the nearest ATM is around 19.7 kilometres closer than our electronic devices thought it was - it's next to the hotel gate. We arrive at breakfast as it opens. It seems there are benefits in getting up early. We're the only people here, and unlike all the other days when we've slept in, there's no queue for the omelettes.

There are only two other people on the boat; one introduces himself as the skipper, and the other as our guide. We're told that the guide will tell us about the dolphins and answer any questions we might have. The boat speeds up and heads north through the lagoon, along with a small flotilla of other craft all seemingly headed in the same direction. We arrive at Dolphin Central, and we're not alone. Issy counts about thirty boats here, and they're all full of tourists. There's also no shortage of people in the water trying to get an even closer look. The dolphins look quite small and only about half the size of those we're used to seeing back home.

The whole scene is a totally chaotic circus. The boats all continuously cut each other off as they try to get as close to the dolphins as possible. The dolphins are always on the move, so the skippers have to try to guess where they'll surface next. Some of the Asian tourists, in particular, seem to be just a bit overly keen on having a particularly intimate encounter - they try to jump on any dolphins swimming next to their boats. They also squeal and break into spontaneous applause whenever any break the surface. I think dolphins must be very rare in Asia, and I start to wonder whether this is maybe because a lot of them have died from being jumped on. The skippers are constantly waving and yelling to the people in the water to direct them to swim towards where the dolphins have surfaced. The dolphins can swim much faster than the people, so fortunately this tactic doesn't seem to be all that successful. Our skipper asks us if we want to go swimming, but we respectfully decline. We don't see any obvious collisions between boats, people or dolphins, which is a minor miracle. The bottom of the lagoon must surely be littered with the remnants of human arms and legs and miscellaneous dolphin body parts. I feel very sorry for the dolphins. I ask Issy what she thinks they must think about all of this. Dolphins are supposedly very intelligent. This circus apparently happens in the same place here every morning, so if they didn't like it presumably they'd just swim away. We decide that they must enjoy it, and the whole thing's just a game to them.

Our skipper seems to be very keen to race his fellow skippers back to Le Morne, and we head off at breakneck speed. Issy leaves her thongs sitting on the deck next to her, and when she looks around they've flown away. We stop briefly to look at a very unusual small rock formation in the lagoon. This is apparently a Mauritian icon which we recognise from travel brochures. We arrive back to find that our guide managed to catch Issy's thongs as they flew past him. We're glad that we gave him something to do. We didn't ask him any questions, and about the only information he offered during the whole exercise was that the dolphins we saw are called Spinner Dolphins. I think that he's had a very easy morning.

Today is the last full day of our great adventure, so we decide that we'll spend the rest of it relaxing. We assume our now customary position on sun lounges, under an umbrella, on the beach in front of our room. We sleep, read, and raise the "Service Please" flag on the umbrella to order some drinks. The weather was very overcast and threatening on the boat trip, but the clouds have now blown away and it's sunny and pleasant on the beach.

Issy starts sorting through photos on her camera. She isn't happy; she tells me that her camera has frozen. A few minutes later she realises that this isn't what's happened; she's actually pushed a few wrong buttons and it's now in the process of deleting all her photos from the entire trip. She doesn't know how to stop it so she pulls out the battery. Luckily she's saved most of her snaps onto her iPad, but she's lost all the ones she took today. She says that she's unfortunately lost quite a few good photos of dolphins leaping into the air, and maybe also being jumped on.

We have our usual buffet dinner. I'm not brave enough to wear sandals, no matter how tempting this might be. Issy's very happy. It's an Asian buffet, and there's a seemingly unlimited supply of Japanese sashimi.

Additional photos below
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1st October 2015

Love the thong catch. Love it all really, especially Issy deleting the photo's

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