Wild Dolphin Swim and My Phobia

11709543_10153101413536398_3745626600511233566_nI’ve just returned from Bimini where I led a group of people on a week long Wild Dolphin Swim and boy am I having a hard time returning to normal life! I’ve been home for four days now and I feel like my heart is still with the dolphins, still in the Bahamas with the sunrises, the crazy humidity, the homemade food, the playful birds, the thunder (the loudest I’ve ever heard), and last but not least, the exceptional group of people who joined together to create this extraordinary experience. Everything in New England just seems a little… boring! I know, I know, give me a few more days to adjust and I’ll be back to my ol happy self but for now, I’m really enjoying basking in the dolphin energy – and for good reason: In just a couple days, the dolphins RELIEVED me of a long time phobia!

This dolphin trip gave me an opportunity to overcome a fear I’ve suffered from for the past fifteen years – open water. (Are you laughing like my husband did that I had scheduled a wild dolphin swim which can only possibly take place in open water – the thing that I am the most afraid of?). I developed the phobia on a snorkeling trip in Kauai more than fifteen years ago. The captain of the boat thought it would be funny to throw a huge bowl of bread into the water near me while I was innocently swimming with the fish. The ensuing frenzy of nips and touches and grabs as the fish (understandably) went after the food freaked me out to no end, and until last week I hadn’t actually been back in any body of water other than a pool since that August, fifteen years ago!

My first day in the water was fraught with snorkel mishaps (I went through three because they kept breaking) which turned out to be a good distraction from my fear of the water. If you can’t breathe underwater, you can’t spend much time in it freaking out. I saw the dolphins from afar, but because I had to jump back on the boat three times, I wasn’t really able to connect or explore with them.

Our second day out in the water was completely different. We had two wild dolphin encounters. During the first swim, I stayed with the group and kept popping my head up to find the other swimmers, the boat, and the dolphins. It was a lot of work for me continually keep track of everything and while I did get more up close and personal with several dolphins who came to play with me, I never really relaxed into it because of my worry about getting lost at sea. Basically, out of fear, I was being a control freak.

But it was the second encounter that day where everything changed. The group of dolphins we had found were in a very playful mood. They would gather in a group, dive down to the sandy bottom together and then re-emerge, sometimes jumping out of the water only to do it all over again. One dolphin swam right toward me – so quickly and so close that I tucked my legs and arms in so as not to touch him. He stopped and looked at me and I felt an immediate tugging at my heart. I suddenly knew that I was totally safe and protected in that water. The dolphins knew that we needed that safety and in that moment, I realized that we were being provided with it. I stopped worrying about where the boat was, where the other snorkelers were and I entered into a beautiful feeling of communion. More dolphins came by, looked me in the eye, swam under my feet, swam three inches from my head… and I just went with it. I never wanted those moments to end and even just writing about this, I feel happy and clear.

Alas, the dolphins know when to say goodbye though and suddenly they were all 30 yards away from us, playing, jumping and having a grand ol’ time. We said our own goodbyes, got back on the boat – and I sat there reveling how completely calm, safe, and secure I had felt in the open water.

I cannot wait to go back to swim with the dolphins again! In fact, this experience moved me so much that I am going to start my next book by talking (much more in depth!) about it. It was no small feat to get me to feel comfortable in the open ocean – and to want to go back? My husband is amazed and so am I!

Stay tuned as I’ll share more about my experience in others ways as well! Hopefully, I’ll have some photos too! (I was too mesmerized and never made it to taking photos of the dolphins themselves!)

13 replies
  1. Shirley Rogers
    Shirley Rogers says:

    Hi Danielle!
    How beautiful it was to read about your experiences in Bimini!! I absolutely love swimming with wild dolphins too!! They are heart healers!!! I went to Bimini for the first time in June and stayed at WildQuest. We swam with dolphins everyday all that week! I have been to the Big Island in Hawaii and swam with Spinner Dolphins so I wondered if the Spotted Dolphins would be as loving and wonderful… Yes, it was wonderful for me too!!! I had a very hard year last year at work and I was in such a dark place that I did not even care if I actually made it to Bimini to do one of the things that gives me such joy… swimming with wild dolphins… but like you, those sweet Spotted Dolphins swam right on up to me and looked me in the eyes… blew bubbles to me and guess what!!! They were heart healers just like my beloved Spinners!!!

    I love animals and one day I plan on taking one of your animal communication courses… I feel that connection deeply. I rescued six feral kittens two years ago and loved them so much that well… they are all one big family here now. And their mother even lives on my back porch… after two years, she finally lets me pet her and even pick her up. She knows that her babies live in my house so she just stayed and never left!!!

    Well, back to the dolphins… I absolutely understand what you wrote about your wild dolphin experience! Once you swim with them there is a special connection with all others humans who have done the same thing! I even went on a dolphin seminar last summer (2014) with Joan Ocean on the Big Island. Joan has the miraculous ability to call the dolphins in to swim with us!!! My first day with her seminar… I saw them swimming near my motel and I called to them too… telling them all about our seminar and that if they waited for us, we would come to them. So I told Joan where we could find them that day and even though it was about 2 hours after my talking with the dolphins… they were right where I left them… and we had a glorious swim!!! Such beautiful creatures… so full of love land joy and play!!! Well, I am rambling… So I am just happy to say to you… we are… One World… One Pod!!! Welcome pod mate!!!
    Have a beautiful Sunday!!!
    Shirley

    Reply
  2. Karen Winstead
    Karen Winstead says:

    Congrats to you, Danielle, for facing your fear and such a BIG one at that! I used to fear being in open water, too, and snorkeling in the pristine waters off of the Cozumel area was so amazing that I got caught up in the wonder of it all, rather than my fear. One of these days I will swim with the dolphins, physically, and for now, in my heart.

    Reply
  3. Sue Minahan
    Sue Minahan says:

    I am inspired with your bold action to confront your inner conflict, and to reveal it’s success. I too remember the union swimming south of Kona at a park, where the dolphins swim. I was alone among a throng of other swimmers, with my fins and snorkel. It was blissful to feel their presence surrounding me in circles and playfully diving below and darting about. I felt fearless, protected, united, blissfully unaware of anything but my company with them. Ever since the distorted movie Jaws, which I chose never to expose myself to, but still held in a possible reality, I’ve felt concern about deep water. I am grateful to the dolphins. In the early 70’s I read an old ancient text that indicated that a sign (to what now I have no recall, but that it was some indication of “changes”) was when people would communicate with the dolphins. Then it was totally a long ways away. Then somewhere, maybe in the 90’s sonic sound, I think, occured and recordings of dolphins were made. BUT, to feel this connection! I know there is communication. Thanks so much Danielle! for your experience and this opportunity to share along with you and others their awesome healing.

    Reply
  4. Sarah Prescott
    Sarah Prescott says:

    Danielle, that is so beautiful! I am so inspired, I will keep an eye out for your next dolphin swim so that I can join you! Thank you for your work, you have opened my eyes,my heart, my soul! XXO

    Reply
  5. Naixieli
    Naixieli says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I think the dolphins that conected with you felt the same you felt at home with your heart still with them. I feel that they kept you in their hearts for some time. Sometimes I feel so happy to provide my animals with that feeling of being safe, and i’m sure they felt so good to help you overcome that old fear. :O)

    Reply
  6. Glo
    Glo says:

    What a beautiful experience. I interacted with a dolphin at Dolphin Discovery years ago in Cancun. Wonderful experience but not the same as yours since the Dolphins had trainers. i would love to go on a wild dolphin swim and will check out Bimini. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  7. Linda
    Linda says:

    Hi,
    My fears of open water and going under the water are keeping me from considering this trip. I feel encouraged by your story, and how you overcame you fear.

    Reply
    • danielle mackinnon
      danielle mackinnon says:

      Oh Linda! If I’m any indication, it’s totally possible to overcome your fear! Please do consider the trip for this upcoming year – It really opened my heart even more! <3

      Reply

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