I was lucky enough to spend a week in California this winter break, mostly to celebrate my cousin getting married. My family and I managed to step away from the festivities and spend a couple days in San Diego, where I experienced what many of my friends know was a dream come true: a date with a dolphin.
I’ve been a dolphin fanatic for quite a while now. They’re my favorite animals—so graceful, friendly and cute as can be. Or so I’ve heard, never actually having seen one up close. So you can imagine my excitement when my parents wanted to give me the gift of a day with a dolphin at SeaWorld. For me, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
I arrived for my balmy 9:15 appointment with Beaker. I, along with nine other people, put on my wetsuit and water shoes. I confess that except for one mom, I was the oldest dolphin enthusiast in the group, but I thought it was kind of funny. In front of dozens of other holiday visitors, we had to march across SeaWorld, looking like we were prepped for a special underwater mission in our black wetsuits. We were led to the dolphin interaction pool where we were told to follow our trainer as she led us through how to meet, touch, feed, and play with a dolphin.
We stood in a waist-high pool. The water was a bit cold, but our trainer said, “once a dolphin comes over, that doesn’t matter any more.” And she was right—I was in awe as Beaker giddily swam over to us, ready to play. I got to touch her, make her do tricks in the water, and I even got to hold onto her fins as she took me for a ride across the pool. It was a short ride, but it thrilled my dolphin-lovin’ heart.
We were actually helping to train Beaker ourselves, because sometimes she would do a trick wrong and would have to do it again. Beaker’s skin was so smooth and muscular—we learned that dolphins shed their skin every two hours. Beaker was so comfortable with us that I can now say that I have seen a dolphin go to the bathroom, too!
My only wish was that I had more one-on-one time with Beaker—I had to share her with five other people in my group. But I guess you can’t have everything in life.
With my souvenir towel and photos in hand, I walked away a more experienced dolphin girl than I was before.