|A Dream Come True|
There is one story that I haven't forgotten, it was from the 2010 Academy Award Winning Documentary, The Cove. A female free diver was telling her story about her experience with the dolphins. She was swimming and diving in open waters when a group of dolphins appeared, they were swimming around her as if they were playing with her. When suddenly one of them approached her and turned his belly in front of her, the dolphin playfully wanted her to pet and touch him.
|Photo from www.thecovemovie.com|
Because of watching and hearing all those stories, one of my dreams is to actually swim with dolphins. I've been to places which can actually let me fulfill my dream but problem is, these places are theme parks which holds captive and trained dolphins. These dolphins might actually came from 'the cove' in Japan where the dolphins are captured then sold all over the world. When a friend told me about MOAP or Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park, I knew I just had to go. MOAP is supposed to be a marine sanctuary where they take care of injured sea animals and release them back in the wild as soon as they are fit to. And one of the sea animal they always take care of are dolphins While they are being nursed back to health, one can actually swim, play and feed them.
Going there was pretty easy. From the airport, we rode a tricycle then hailed a van to go to the Park. From the entrance, we rode another tricycle to enter the premise itself. After a quick lunch, we waited for other people to arrive so that we could share the expense for the bangka ride going to the aquamarine park. Each person paid Php300, the bangka can accommodate 10 to 12 people.
|Walking towards the Boarding Area|
In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at the dock and made our way to the dolphin sanctuary.
This is what greeted us, three dolphins swimming around the enclosure. I was so excited that I could jump right then and there.
|Three Dolphins Swimming Around|
We had to pay Php350 for the experience and one can rent snorkels and floating vests. While waiting for our turn, one of the caretakers proceeded to tell us that a week before they just released back more than 10 dolphins in the open. He also told a story about how a mother dolphin brought and left her injured calf at the sanctuary a few days back but sadly they weren't able to revive the calf back to health.
When our time came, we were taught on the proper way of holding the fish to feed the dolphins. The caretaker handed over a plastic net with fish inside and left us on our own. When we approached the deeper part of the enclosure, the dolphins were very wary. They swam away from us and whenever I hold out a piece of fish, they would quickly grab it and swim away.
After a couple of minutes of being with them in the water, they started to warm up. They would approached us and would stare at us with so much curiosity.
|"Well Hello There..."|
|"Im glad to meet you!!!"|
There were even times when I felt that they were smiling as I took photos of them. So Adorable and Cute!!!!
|Getting Close and Personal|
The feeling was incredible, there I was fulfilling one of my dreams. It was better than what I hoped and expected, I was able to swim, touch, feed and hear them. I felt so happy, calm and at peace with them, they are such adorable gentle creatures, it makes you want to grab and hugged them tightly.
|Gently Stroking their Forehead|
Here's a compilation of video clips of what transpired underwater. Petting, swimming, playing, hearing and feeding them.
I also found out that dolphins can be picky eaters. They have been feasting on whole pieces of fish when I didn't notice that I grab hold of a fish head only. When I held out and release the fish head for him to eat, watch the exasperated expression of the dolphin. This is so funny, Do Watch This!!!
Luckily, there weren't any group that followed us so instead of the usual 20 minutes, we were able to swim with them for almost an hour. I could have stayed longer though if permitted.
|Swimming and Playing with a Dolphin|
After being with the dolphins, we still couldn't believe what has transpired. We walked and looked around the park.
|Under the Docks|
Right in the middle of the sea, there is a sand bar. Though I'm not sure if this is man made or natural
The front desk told us that we can snorkel around the area. We didn't have to pay an extra fee, we just gave our guide a reasonable tip. I was awe-struck with what I saw, the marine life under was so alive and beautiful. I saw different kinds and sizes of fish and other beautiful sea dwelling creatures, it is one of the best snorkeling sites that I've been to.
|A School of Fish Swimming Around|
|A Stunning White-Pinkish Sea Plant|
|Fish of Different Sizes and Color|
While swimming and diving around, I saw something stand out, the colorful Clown Fish.
|"Looked who I bumped into..its Marlin and Nemo"|
|"Smile for the Camera!!!"|
The experience was one of the most unforgettable and uplifting experiences I'll ever had. I won't even have second thoughts of going back and doing it all over again and again. I hope the people behind MOAP stay true to what they claimed to do and not turn this place into one of those theme parks that exploits the smartest and most adorable sea mammal.
|"Everything was Perfect"|
Afternote: If you get a chance to watch The Cove, I strongly suggest that you do. The movie is both sad and inspiring and what's most important it is an eye opener on what is actually happening with dolphins. Visit their site at: www.thecovemovie.com
Update: Unfortunately after there was a change of government, they have decided to closed down the place. As what I've heard, the new local government has change their advocacy, prioritizing other projects.