Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Dancing with Dolphins - Our Adventure at the RWS Dolphin Trek

    It started as a surprise birthday gift for the wifey. Unfortunately, the wifey was too apprehensive to enjoy it on her own. As it turned out, the weather didn't play along on our first day. That gave the wifey her chance to postpone her treat and make sure that I went along the next week. So there we were, at the entrance of Dolphin Island, inside Adventure Cove, in Resorts World Sentosa. 
    There are many different dolphin-related activities. The one we chose was called Dolphin Trek. There are only two sessions per day. One at 10.20am and another at 3.00pm. We chose the morning slot. There were a pair of friendly twins at the same slot as us. However, we were divided into two groups, with a dolphin-trainer assigned to each couple. As we walked along the water, the inquisitive dolphins came by as if to say "hello". We were told not to wave as the dolphins communicated with the trainers through hand-signals. We might confuse the dolphins.
    The "diving-gear" consisted of a standard oxygen tank connected to a state-of-the-art helmet. The tank hardly weighed anything. The helmet was a totally different story. It weighs 32kg at sea-level and 6kg under water. I was reminded of my first time wearing the SBO during NS. This seemed a lot heavier. The wifey went down the ladder 4m under water without any problem. I took a longer time as my right ear just refused to reach equilibrium. Thanks to the expertise of the staff, I finally managed to descend; pinching my nose and blowing while moving down each rung. Yes the helmet allows you to place your hand into it, even while under water - the wonders of technology. I found it useful to slightly bend my knees to keep my balance. Movement under water was understandably slow and deliberate. Nevertheless, besides the weight on our shoulders, it wasn't uncomfortable.  
    We had the opportunity to interact with the Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin and see how it behaves in its natural undersea habitat. The dolphin felt rubbery like a huge tyre. We were told that it sheds its skin every 2 hrs, hence it's smooth skin. Time passes extremely fast when you're having fun. Soon we had to ascend the ladder back to the surface.
    We were then led to a shallow area. Here we got to smooch and be smooched by Hui Hui the dolphin. Every dolphin has a name and every trainer could identify all the dolphins.
    The rest of the day was spent at the various water attractions of Adventure Cove. The Dolphin Trek package also came with complementary set meals at the Bay Restaurant, which consisted of a main dish (I had chicken thigh, the wifey had fried rice), drink and ice-cream (i.e. popsicle. We wanted to choose the mango mouse and Cornetto ice-cream but was told it wasn't included). 
    Some may disapprove of the whole programme, especially with the negative publicity that ACRES has been putting out. However, at no time did we feel that the dolphins were in dire straits. In fact, the dolphins came across as very comfortable, and even happy, in their environment. They readily came to "greet" you when you walked near the water's edge. Each dolphin had a trainer assigned to it (we know this because another dolphin came along when we were with Hui Hui and our trainer called for the other dolphin's trainer). Each dolphin also has its personalized diet plan according to it's weight. For a facility of that size, the large number of marine specialists and trainers also surprised us. We were even told that the dolphins which interact with guests were "volunteers". They were chosen based on how enthusiastically they behaved. I would conclude that the dolphins here are very well taken care of. I believe all of us should be very discerning when consuming media and information, and not just accept it at face-value (especially from those pushing a "green" agenda or otherwise).

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