Yesterday, I shared with you about our great tour at IMMS and mentioned that Miss Grace had a up close dolphin encounter!
Here are some pictures and more info on how it went!
For the dolphin encounter, I selected 'Paint with a Dolphin' for Miss Grace, as I thought it would be really great to have the painting as a souvenir of her time with the dolphin, plus she still got to touch and direct the dolphin, like the other encounters. And for only $10 more, I knew the painting would be something she would always treasure!
The canvas is already painted, you just select which color you want, and then which 2 paint colors you want the dolphin to paint with. No surprise Miss Grace selected colors that mimic her room! LOL. You just hold the canvas and the dolphin does the rest. As you can tell from the picture above, Miss Grace and CJ the dolphin, were both equally excited to get started! in fact the picture at the top of the post was from CJ circling back and forth, and popping up and out of the water, when he saw us coming with a canvas! he REALLY likes to paint!
As we found out, the action the dolphin uses to 'paint' is actually one they use when trying to reach something. And CJ has developed a real liking to painting, and only really needs to be given the ok to start signal before he gets down to painting! For Miss Grace, being so crafty herself, it was thrilling to have CJ so interested as well!
I think they did a pretty good job! I'm glad I clicked a second before the official IMMS photographer,as CJ decided to 'snort' a second after this picture was clicked and as Miss Grace said later "she had a dose of fish breath/spray" on her! the trainer said that was a sign of playing/happiness!
Miss Grace also got to learn hand commands and give them to CJ, and then be able to watch him obey her.
I swear his eyes closed and he just about fell asleep during this side check, aka petting! They have the dolphins do these two maneuvers, so they can check them over every day,for injuries, illnesses, etc.
She was able to get him to roll and offer his belly for inspection (and petting), and then she proceeded to ask all sorts of questions re his anatomy to the trainer. I'm not sure she was expecting that! Hence why they worked they're way down his stomach!
You know an animal is comfortable, when they will float and give you their tale to discuss more anatomy and swimming, with the trainer! they also had a discussion on why they draw blood from fins and tails! My child, the inquisitor, LOL
She was also to have him float to her,so she could tickle him- who knew dolphins were ticklish! just like a dog,when you touch that one spot, their fins go back and forth!
CJ gets rewarded with fish and after the second one, Miss Grace was throwing to CJ like a pro and not batting an eye about picking them up barehanded (this from the child who had to wash her hands in the tank because CJ got paint on her hand, before she could pet him! LOL). All in all it was about a 20 minute experience and one that she has yet to STOP talking about!
As you can see, you are RIGHT there with the dolphin, not reaching over the side of a tank, which is why younger children must have an adult present and some encounters have a height minimum. It is important to read the instructions, to wear appropriate clothing/shoes and to keep hair/jewelry out of the way, etc. As the trainers said, the dolphins don't always retrieve and bring dropped things BACK. And be prepared to get WET from any excessive splashing!
You can book your tour and Dolphin Encounters online at IMMS. When you click the Book It button, all the possibilities will appear, and you can select the ones you wish. You can book your tours and encounters all at the same time.Be warned, Summer is their BUSY season and everything books up quickly, but it looks like August is easing up and the system has many slots available. IF you are attending the tour, then adults do NOT have to pay for the separate attendee fee, to take pictures of their child on a dolphin encounter. As you can see, you get some pretty amazing photos! I got mine just using the standard lens on my Nikon, as you are SO close to the encounter! Plus you get a picture made by IMMS in a gorgeous keepsake holder!
We really can't recommend IMMS and their Dolphin Encounters enough!