Swimming with Bottlenose Dolphins is quickly becoming one of my favourite things to do in South Australia. That being said, I still hold that swimming with Aussie Sea Lions off the coast of Port Lincoln (SA) is the most interactive wildlife experience I have ever had, anywhere. However these dolphins off the coast of Kingscote take a very close second and depending on the next couple weeks could oust the Puppy like Sea Lions and take first place.
On an absolute perfect summers day on KI I had booked an afternoon half day trip to visit the north east coast of the island and hopefully run into a pod of wild bottlenose dolphins. The community in Kingscote has been monitoring and studying the local Bottlenose population for just under a decade and have a real love and respect for their marine neighbours. A big portion of the KI economy relies on tourism and the dolphins are a huge asset to the people of Kingscote. Having the opportunity to join these incredibly intelligent and well adapted species in their natural environment is a privilege and one that the people of KI are very happy to share with visitors like me. Honestly the half day trip was as rewarding through education as it was experience.
What an experience! If you haven’t been swimming with wild dolphins before, I highly suggest you do. It is such a rush of adrenaline. Honestly, you do not even realize how big they are until you’re in the water next to them. The day I went out, there were a couple baby dolphins being protected by their mothers, not in a threatening way, but in a kinda ‘motherly’ way if you know what I mean. The pod was about 25 in total and because of the babies in their midst, there were almost like guard dolphins who were monitoring the boat and human behaviour in their vicinity. Again not in a threatening manner, but more of a curious, ‘I want to make sure you are not a threat to my family’ kind of action, getting extremely close to me while I was swimming at the pods edge. It was incredible!!!
Honestly I was within touching distance of a number of dolphins for a number of minutes, staying calm and observing, they eventually lost interest in my presence and I was able to passively watch as the pod socialized amongst one another, the mothers teaching the babies and the group dynamics materializing. It is difficult to explain the feeling in words, it is something you must experience. Being a welcomed guest in the home of a pod of wild bottlenose dolphins in the southern ocean.
If you’re on KI and want to experience this for yourself, check out Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures, these were the guys I went out with and the only licensed tour operator for swimming and interacting in the water. The owner Andrew also works closely with the Dolphin Watch program and is a big advocate for the species and sustainable measures being put in place to ensure the future of the local Bottlenose populations.
Remember take pictures and leave only bubbles! See you in the water!