Dolphin Smooches

Eeeeeaaaaheeeeee-e-e-e—eee–eeee-ahEEEE-EE-EE!!! That’s dolphin for “I like fish. I want some more! I will kiss your sweaty face if you’ll give me some FIIIISH!!!” And on our second visit to the island of Roatán in Honduras, we learned a little bit of dolphin from our new water-bound mammalian pal, Anthony. Anthony is a 3-year-old male dolphin who lives at the dolphin education and research center at Anthony’s Key Resort. You might think that sharing a name with the key and the resort itself would give him an out-of-control ego, but Anthony lives in a pod of 20+ dolphins. He’s still a calf, and he’s learned to keep any egotistical tendencies in check because most of his companions are older and larger than he is. If you’re only a measly 200 pound three-year-old, you don’t want to mess with the 26-year-old big papa of the pod who weighs in at a hefty 600 lbs.

Anthony’s Key is a really cool place because all of the dolphins live in the Caribbean Sea rather than Sea World-esque tanks. They are cared for and observed by marine biologists doing behavioral studies out in the open water. Anthony, though, was born in captivity and lives in a huge area cordoned off with underwater nets that allow smaller fish to swim in and out. The staff is committed to providing dolphin-human interactions on the dolphins’ own terms. Being naturally curious, dolphins have a friendly and fun demeanor that leads to easy-going socializing with humans. We tried to sign up for the encounter and the snorkeling session, but only the encounter was open. In the snorkeling session, humans get to swim around freestyle with the dolphins for a half hour. The dolphins do not perform “tricks” and therefore are given no rewards–their nature takes over and they just have a good time. So, we were able to participate in an encounter session where a trainer helped us to hold Anthony and also receive kisses from him. He, in turn, received tasty fish for his efforts. A little fish seems a fair payment for smooching on what is often a sweaty sunscreen-slathered homo sapien. (After our turn, however, Anthony clicked and whistled to me that he’d have been happy to smooch on the ship’s librarian even without the fish.)



Quite a few of Anthony’s pals and cousins were swimming around us while we petted and played with him. Occasionally, one or two of the other dolphins would come rushing up to us, interrupting one of Anthony’s many astounding tricks and inviting him to swim away for a few minutes. Anthony didn’t take much convincing. After Anthony’s trainer described him as “mischievous,” we quickly figured out that he is really just a teenage rascal within the pod social structure. That made us love him all the more, so of course we all clapped and cheered like crazy to encourage his misbehavior.


We rounded out the day with a trip to the West Bay beach, where we snorkeled and enjoyed beach life with quite a few of our MV Explorer shipmates, including the previously mentioned Piano Man, Bob Falstein:


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librarian, writer/editor, floundering guitarist, breakfast addict

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