How to safely swim with dolphins, for you and the dolphins

Swimming with dolphins remains high on the bucket list for countless people and the Gold Coast has a huge dolphin population. In particular if you are out on boats, large pots of dolphins are observed every day cruising up and down the coastline reasonably close to shore. They are also regular visitors of our Gold Coast Broadwater.

Encountering one of natures smartest creatures in their natural habitat is an unparalleled feeling. Finding dolphins in the wild, depending on where you are, can be an easy feat, yet be careful, its important to swim with a species that poses no threat to you, and in turn a species that will not be threatened by you.

Dolphins tend to conduct 3 main social behaviours; travelling, mating and feeding. Each one eliciting a different response to swimmers. When a dolphin pod is travelling they rarely stop, they have an objective and will pursue that said objective. If you drop into the water in front of the pod whilst allowing a wide berth, you will often have a short but intense encounter with a large group of dolphins as they speed past, beneath and to the sides of you. Certain species such as spotted and common dolphins may be inquisitive and come within inches, whistling and clicking to each other through the water as they swim slowly in front of you. Certain species are extremely sky, Rissos dolphin are the epitome of that, shallow diving as soon as people enter the water. Sliding from a boat without creating splashes is key, noise will normally cause the dolphins to scatter.

When dolphins are mating its best to be out of the water, the only other species to have sex for pleasure, dolphins spend a large portion of time mating. Speeding erratically through the water, a sole female being pursued by groups of males, it is almost impossible to swim and take images of dolphins in this manner. Furthermore, during this essential moment of dolphin life they do not care for interruption, and bottlenose are an example of a species that can react to swimmers in a defensive manner. The sentinel male of the pod is responsible for the protection of the calf’s and weaker members. They will often approach at speed within mere inches blowing bubbles and then turning at the last moment. This is their intimidation method.

Feeding is the moment any dolphin enthusiast should revel in. A bait ball of sardines or small fish being feed on by dolphins, sharks, birds and seals is all possible in the ocean and make sure you swim into the fast paced and rapidly disappearing action and wait and watch.

Dolphins are extremely aware of their bodies in the water and will not hit you unless they mean to. False killer whales and pilot whales are notorious members of the oceanic dolphin family that predate on larger marine species from Bluefin tuna to other dolphins. These two species are larger than the more well known dolphins and have been recorded to be territorial and extremely protective of their food. Highly intelligent, many marine biologists recommend swimmers notto enter the water with these animals. While there is a slim possibility of any injury, it is not worth taking the risk – instead enjoy observing these apex predators from the surface.

The best chances to encounter dolphins is to scuba dive. The Gold Coast’s natural reefs are the perfect feeding ground for dolphins. Checkout this video published by The Scuba Coach and Gold Coast Dive Adventures at Greta’s reef. They have had many happy divers that encountered dolphin on their gold coast dive trip.

Dolphin encounter Gold Coast: https://youtu.be/k6s-LtRGmbs 

The Scuba Coach: http://thescubacoach.com/

Gold Coast Dive Adventures: https://goldcoastdiveadventures.com.au 

At SEA the Gold Coast, we love the ocean with all its treasures. If you like what we do, head over to our social media pages and follow us along.