Skip to main content

For my 50th birthday in February, I decided to gift myself by following one of my long-held dreams…to swim with the dolphins.

I don’t recall when this dream originated. It may have formed while sailing for six-months in the South Pacific in 1998. The crew and I had several encounters with dolphins swimming at the bow of our 46-foot sailboat. During our first ocean passage, sailing from Fiji, I felt excited, but also quite nervous. Even though I grew up sailing, I had never been away from the sight of land. As we sailed west towards the crimson sunset, dolphins joined us at the bow of the boat, as if to provide a personal escort for us out to sea. Their presence elicited feelings of deep joy and comfort and my nervousness subsided. Even though the swells were large, I knew we would be safe. The dolphins signaled a good omen.

Four years later, while sailing with friends from Dana Point to Catalina Island in California, a pod of dolphins greeted us. I laid down on the bow of the boat and dangled my arm overboard hoping to touch one of these magnificent creatures. I didn’t make physical contact, but I did make eye contact. The dolphin’s gaze pierced me to my very core and sent a warm sensation of love and energy throughout my body. (Tears well up now as I recall this deeply touching experience.) My fascination and curiosity of these highly conscious beings became rooted deep in my being from that moment on.

Then, as part of a Sail Into Your Dreams retreat I led in 2005, the boat captain and I took participants out sailing and we encountered hundreds, if not thousands, of dolphins just outside of the Oxnard harbor near Ventura, California. We witnessed white water splashes for miles all around us. Sailing towards the splashes, pods of 10-12 dolphins at a time swam at the bow of the boat. Filled with profound awe and gratitude, I felt deeply compelled to jump in the water with them. I restrained myself.

Twelve years later, for my 50th birthday in February, on the Big Island of Hawaii, I finally realized my dream of swimming with the dolphins.

“There they are. Look! Look!” I pointed my finger towards the shiny gray-black objects undulating up and down in the water in synchronized rhythms. My boyfriend, Mark, spotted them too, a small pod of about five to six dolphins.

Gearing up with our snorkels and fins on the rocky shore of Kealakekua Bay, I felt butterflies in my stomach. The dolphins were about a quarter mile out, so it would be a long swim to get to them and it wasn’t guaranteed that they would come close to us as the bay is large and the dolphins often submerge under water for up to ten minutes at a time, making it difficult to know where to meet them.

Swimming half way out towards our last spotting of the dolphins, where other snorkelers and a couple of kayaks waited, Mark said, “Let’s stop here and allow them to come to us.” I agreed and we dog paddled alternating between looking up above the water and down below for their shadows.

As we waited, I focused on sending the dolphins love from my heart and telepathically invited them to join us. I don’t know if it was related, but a minute later, I looked up and saw them swimming directly towards us. I took out my snorkel and shouted, “Oh, my God, Mark! Here they come!”

This was the moment we had been waiting for. My heart beat fast. I looked up and down quickly, not wanting to miss anything. Then they were upon us. Twenty-five wild dolphins, including a couple of babies, swam right under and alongside of us. They were so close, I could almost touch them. The pod was much larger than we expected. Overwhelmed with awe and gratitude, tears filled my eyes.

The pod swam slowly and gracefully. We were able to swim alongside them for several moments. It felt like an eternity. My body relaxed and I entered into a profound state of peace. I felt completely safe in their presence. Honored. Privileged. Changed.

After the dolphins swam away, Mark and I waited briefly for another encounter. Dog paddling with our heads above water, watching intently for their shiny backs to surface again, Mark took out his snorkel and said, “I really want to see them jump and spin before we head back in.” For several days, he had been looking out over the water, hoping to see this happen.

“Eek. Eek. Eek.” He did his best impression of a dolphin call, trying to communicate his wish.

Within minutes, one pierced the surface of the water and did a spinning flip. It continued its leaping several more times. We were both astonished by our good fortune.

Reluctantly, we headed back to shore.  We could have waited for another encounter, but we were both getting cold and tired and we knew that this encounter was very special. The dolphins trusted us and had chosen to get close to us. Plus, we got to see them spin.

Sitting on a black lava rock drying off and resting in the warmth of the sun, I knew I had been transformed.

As with any profound, life-altering experience, words are often inadequate, but I will do my best to describe what I’ve noticed since that day…

  • A feeling of peace and calm has mostly stayed with me. It was like swimming with the dolphins had somehow regulated my nervous system. Their peace, grace and gentleness infused my being.
  • I feel lighter in my body and energy field. In meditation, the morning after the swim, the words Light Body Activation came to me. This seems to have freed me of some emotional and physical blockages and, as a result, I have more energy.
  • My heart is more open. I am more easily touched and brought to tears by inspiration, beauty, sad events, etc.
  • My intuition has increased. I seem to simply “know” things more than I did before.
  • In general, I feel a greater sense of ease, flow and abundance in my life.

I am forever grateful to the dolphins for their transmission of love, healing and higher consciousness. If I could speak for these Love Ambassadors of the Sea, I think they would want me to communicate about the importance of living from love instead of fear. They would want to remind us of the importance of celebrating life and remembering to take time out to play and “make a splash”!


Close Menu
Karen Mehringer, MA, MFT - Grief support, counseling and life coaching in Santa Cruz area.