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Published January 11th 2015
Swim with wild dolphins
If you don't have "swim with dolphins" on your bucket list, add it; note the company "Polperro Dolphin Swims" while you're at it.
Polperro Dolphin Swims provides marine animal experiences with wild Bottlenose and Burrunan dolphins, and Australian fur seals in Port Phillip Bay. Meet your vessel at Sorrento Pier, by the ferry terminal, on the Mornington Peninsula (about a 90-minute drive from Melbourne). Meet your friendly hosts from this family-run business, and they will assist you with finding a wetsuit and equipment.
Buoyed ropes were let out behind the vessel for the guests that chose to "swim". There is a dry option, to observe aboard Polperro, while learning about marine conservation. A range of strict environmentally-based business practices minimises disturbance to both the dolphins and the marine environment. "Swimming" with the dolphins is actually more accurately described as watching the dolphins swimming under and around you in the water. Touching the dophins is prohibited. To keep up with the pods of dolphins, swimmers hold on to the buoyed ropes, and are towed behind the vessel, faces in the water, watching the dolphins swim in the area.
Polperro Dolphin Swims is a multi-award winning eco tourism operation. They purposely limit the size of their trips to guarantee a high standard of customer and environmental care.
The day of our trip was drizzly and cool; I was worried they would cancel. We got the go-ahead the morning of our booking, and found out later that when there is inclement weather, sometimes there are more dolphins around, because the jet-skiers and other recreational water sport enthusiasts aren't as prevalent. We were in luck. While Polperro boasts a 98% success rate, dolphins are, of course, wild animals, there is no 100% guarantee that you will see dolphins on your chosen booking.
We let ourselves down the buoyed line, and the boat maintained a slow speed; dolphins swam right under us and all around us. I found it equally intoxicating to be on deck, watching the dolphins play in the wake of the vessel.
The guests rotated around a few times, and everyone had a chance to see the dolphins in the water and from the boat. We were served hot drinks and freshly baked scones on board as some guests dried off and changed into dry clothes (don't forget your towel). Many of the guests also opted to swim with the fur seals; a playful and active lot.
Polperro Dolphin Swims offers a wide range of other services including Bay cruises, educational and historical tours, fully catered charters or a trip of your own personal design.