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Florida Guide > Other Activities

Discovering Dolphins

For some people a trip to Florida would not be complete without seeing dolphins. There are several species of dolphins which live in the waters around the coast of Florida. The most common one is the bottle–nose dolphin and that is the one that you can go and see at several centres around the state. They are also often used for training and ‘performing’ as well as for research as they are very flexible in their behaviour.

There are lots of opportunities for organised bottle-nose dolphin watching, some are in small controlled man made areas and some are what they call ‘natural’.

You can see dolphins close up at Discovery Cove where you can arrange for a dolphin ‘swim’. You are in small groups with one dolphin per group and a dolphin trainer who will talk to you and tell you all about them. You will be able to touch it and take a very short ‘swim’ where you hold on to the dolphin as it pulls you through the water. The experience lasts for just under an hour, but the rest of your day at Discovery Cove is spent snorkelling in the lagoon with an amazing selection of fish, admiring birds in the aviary or lazing on the peaceful beach. It is also possibly to arrange to be a dolphin trainer for a day, which means you would be able to spend a lot more time with them.

There are several dolphin experiences available in the Florida Keys – Dolphin Cove is a natural lagoon and they offer both a structured dolphin swim and a natural one. For the structured you learn all about the dolphins and can touch them as they are reacting to their trainer with learned behaviours, whereas with the natural swim you are snorkelling amongst them and they are calling the shots. With the natural swim you are not allowed to touch them.

Also in the Keys is Dolphins Plus, where they also offer both structured and natural swims. What makes this place different is that, in addition to dolphin swims, you can swim with sea lions too!

Marineland in St Augustine is the world’s first oceanarium and offers a lot of different programmes to allow you to interactive with, and learn about, dolphins. You don’t have to make a reservation, and sign up for one of the special programmes - you can get a general admission ticket to Marineland and just observe the dolphins as they swim, play and interact with the guests.

These are just a few of the places where you can get up close with these fascinating creatures – an experience that is well worth having.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 11 February 2008
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