If your kids are interested in dolphins, marine biology or just having a fun afternoon doing something extraordinary, book a trip with UNEXSO located on Grand Bahama Island. The group has provided fascinating dolphin adventures for more than 40 years.
My “dream” was to have a fully facilitated center on the edge of a clear, warm water wilderness where anyone could just bring a toothbrush (we’d give them one of those if they forgot it) and learn to dive or go deep or explore possible Atlantis site with top quality equipment and personnel. Founder Albert Tillman
Playful, entertaining and beautiful are just a few of the adjectives that describe close encounters with dolphins. “I liked petting the dolphins on the back the best,” said Sanae, age 6 who is featured in the video on the left. Many of the group members enjoyed having a dolphin kiss them on the cheek. Most were entertained when the dolphins Cocoon and Exuma got up to top speed to playfully splash the water.
Trainers Patrick Forbes and Kelly Sweeting will help your tweens understand that working with the dolphins is more than just teaching them tricks. It’s important to clean the teeth and be able to draw blood samples. Watch the video to see how the trainers care for the mammals.
“Home” for a dolphin
Dr. Robert Eiser, UNEXSO Operations Manager, has worked with the facility for over 5 years. “It’s a big responsibility that I don’t take lightly, especially during a hurricane.” To demonstrate how well-cared for the dolphins are, Eiser said that in preparing for Hurricane Irene, he opened the lagoon gates so the dolphins could swim out to the ocean. As he turned to head back to the office, Eiser heard the distinctive sound of the gates slamming shut – a sign the dolphins intended to ride out the storm in the lagoon.
Sweeting echoed the signs of dolphin love for their UNEXSO lagoon home when she talked about how the dolphins join the diving and swimming trips in the open ocean. It’s their choice to come back with the group or swim out to sea. “This is the best facility in the world. Dolphins know they are safe and like calling UNEXSO home,” said Sweeting.
Fast facts about UNEXSO dolphins:
- There are 13 dolphins in the program including many who were born at the facility.
- Although the dolphins can make over 800 clicks and sounds, trainers have hand motions to prompt four sounds.
- Be careful not to wave or make other hand motions around the dolphins. Those could send a signal for the dolphin to perform.
- In just three stokes of the fin, dolphins can reach top speeds of 30 mph.
- Cocoon is 47-years-old and starred in the movie bearing her name.
Grand Bahama Island Spotlights is the first in a series of three articles on the Winter Escape adventures for tweens. Swim with the dolphins at UNEXSO is part two, followed by part three on tween faith on vacation. Subscribe to receive the article series and others by clicking on the subscribe tab at the top of the page and entering your email, which will not be shared.