These recent pages of my diary document our last summer’s trip to the Harderwijk dolphinarium and the interaction with the dolphins that we booked for the daughters of the three families in our group as a special farewell when we found out that one of the families would be shifting overseas in the summer.
The one bonus of not being in the water with the dolphins myself is that I can still get close up with ny lens as they swim close by the edges of the enclosure or under the bridge I”m standing on where the swimming members of our group are waiting by a hidden mesh partition fence with the keeper to say hello.
This is the moment to test the zoom lens of my camera to it’s limits, and also my severely limited photogrphy skills when it comes to taking photos of moving objects and wildlife… and capturing inages through the strange relective qualities of water.
To be honest these amazing beasts are memorising, I would have no trouble returning day after day to try and capture their beauty.
Their fluidity in the water is a work of art, and there is clearly a defined character to each animal… the playful one who’s nudging and flicking water, the bossier (or maybe older one) who commands deference from the others and a set of social rules that govern their behaviour.
And social they are, the interaction is very much enjoyed and even when they have the opportunity and plenty of space to leave the group alone they choose not to, it seems that humans are as much entertainment to dolphins as dolphins are entertainment to us.
How any human being could want to kill or maim such intelligent creatures is beyond me, these stunning creatures deserve our respect.
Behind the dolphin enclosure is the walrus enclosure, in the water they look big enough, out of it they are massive. And, to my surprise, amazing quick on their flippers when it comes to moving around.
We have spent all afternoon here and now the dolphinarium is closing for the day… there is still a lot more to see, but no time left today to fit everything in. Everyone agrees that a return trip (even without the extra dolphin experience) is high on our wish list for another day.
Interestingly when I spoke to the keeper who was with our group I mentioned that jobs here must be difficult to get, and probably need a degree in marine biology etc.
“Not at all” he replied: when vacancies arise interviews are open to people of all education levels, what’s deemed most important is how well the staff interact with the dolphins and other wildlife here: if there is no natural ease with the animals, no ”connection” or flair for working with the residents here then no amount of degrees or diploma’s will get you a place.
This is a piece of information that is the last piece in a puzzle I couldn’t quite put my finger on before, it’s the feeling you get when you are here: the level of respect between the staff and their charges and clear sense that you get that this is more than “just a job”. For these people it’s clearly a vocation and it shows.
Certainly this special dolphin experience at Euro 125,- per child and Euro 150,- per adult, this is definitely not cheap, but it is a once in a life-time “bucket-list” type of experience, and we also know that a lot of work is done here to help nurse injured wildlife back to health before releasing them back into the wild.
This makes this experience worth every cent… if you can’t take it with you, you should at least try and spend it wisely and an amazing day out that will be in the memories of three families daughters forever and supports the brilliant work done here… I think that’s well worth it.