Last summer we looked a unique experience for Kiwi Daughter and her two best friends to share for a last time before one of them moved overseas with her family.
This lead to our three family group coming to Harderwijk’s Dolphinarium to get up close and personal with dolphins for two hours in a small group of six under the instruction of the keepers.
The members of our group who have been in the water with the dolphins are now makng their way to the other side of the enclosure.
There is a complex system whereby the water from the open sea close by is flushed via filters and pipes through the enclosure, allowing for a seawater environment as close to what the marine life are used to within the Dolphinarium.
The group will be snorkelling in this second part of the enclosure and get a snorkel and practice lesson in the shallows before they set out swimming in the deeper water.
There was a lot of giggling amongst the kids as they got to grips with the snorkel and masks but they soon got the hang of it and set out with the group using a gentle breaststroke into the deeper area where they tread water before getting ready to look into the depths below.
With equipment adjusted, on the signal of the keeper, they all go face down in the water and within seconds their heads pop out of the water again and we are greeted with shrieks of surprise: the laughing instructor didn’t tell them that the walking bridge I am standing on hides an underwater mesh fence that keeps the dolphins separated from the inhabitants on our side.
Our group were startled to find that the space they are swimming in is far from empty but in fact is home to a lot of fish: some of them huge and within touching distance! They certainly didn’t expect to put their faces under the water and expect to see large fish staring back at them from close quarters!
Once they got over the surprise their heads quickly disappeared again as they eagerly returned the curiosity of the inquisitive fish. The group swim their way over to the footbridge I’m standing on and stop at the mesh fence underneath where the playful dolphin on the other side come over to say hello.
With fingers through the mesh they can touch the dolphins and whilst they are hidden from view under the wide bridge they have a decent head room and I can hear excited conversation below me. The dolphins seem delighted to have company and keep making circles in the water and returning to the bridge to interact with the visitors. As usual identifying features have been edited out of my photos of the friends and family for reasons of internet privacy.
The keeper who has been fantastic and really made this experience easy, safe and totally fun, agrees to pose for a blog photo. I have to apologise for forgetting his name but if you are lucky enough to get him as your guide you can rest assured you will have a great time.