1. I’m a nervous/poor swimmer - can I still join the tour?
No problem! As long as you are brave enough to get yourself into the water our experienced guides will coach you through the rest of the experience. You will be wearing a 5mm, full length rubber wetsuit which not only keeps you warm but very buoyant as well. Your guide will be driving an aqua scooter- a yellow battery powered device with a propeller that takes all the hard work out of swimming. All you do is grab hold of the guide’s belt and they will use the scooter to tow you around in the water right amongst the action. We always keep you at the surface and allow the dolphins to come to us so you don’t need to worry about holding your breath or swimming below the surface.
Our top tip for nervous swimmers is to make sure that your guide is aware that you are not confident- we are quite skilled at reading peoples body language but some people are very good at covering up their anxiousness for fear of ‘looking silly’. If you tell us we can make sure that you are placed right behind the guide and that we do the extra preparation prior to entering the water to ensure you have the best experience possible.
2. I’ve never snorkelled before- can I still join the tour?
We get plenty of guests who have never snorkelled before and that’s fine- our guides will be doing snorkelling lessons during the initial stage of the tour while we search for the dolphins. If you don’t feel confident by the end of the session, talk to your guide who will be happy to do some further work with you.
Most first time snorkelers pick it up fairly easily, however, if you have the opportunity we recommend you get some practise in prior to joining the tour- especially for parents with children who are snorkelling for the first time. Our top snorkelling tip- don’t try to breathe through your nose with a mask on! Sounds obvious I know but you’d be surprised how many first timers make this mistake!
3. Are we likely to see any sharks?
The chances of a shark encounter are very low, however, when you work in the ocean as often as we do there is unfortunately always a risk. To ensure the safest possible environment for our passengers and crew we use Shark Shields which generate an electric field that produces intolerable discomfort to the sharks sensory receptors known as Ampullae of Lorenzi (found on the snouts of all predatory sharks) forcing them to veer away and leave the immediate area.
4. Can we touch the dolphins & how close will they come?
They come incredibly close- at times they will be spinning around within inches of our passengers. To ensure that we do not harm the dolphins in anyway by transmitting skin diseases or damaging their protective skin layer we adhere to a strict ‘no touch policy’.
5. Will I have to sign a waiver of liability?
As with all adventure activities there is an element of risk in participating. To keep our insurance company happy we require you to sign a waiver of liability. If you are catching our coach from Perth you can sign on the journey down or if making your own way to Rockingham there will be copies onboard the boat. Click here to view a copy of the waiver of liability.
6. Can we feed the dolphins?
Definitely not- it’s terrible for their health and would ruin the unique friendship we have with the dolphins which is based on a mutual curiosity and enjoyment of one another’s company, rather than food. Most people are not aware that feeding wild dolphins (and most other species of wild animals) results in an increase in mortality rate and decrease in reproductive success. We have set up a project especially to raise awareness and combat this problem- for more information see our Keep Perth’s Dolphins and Sea Lions Wild- An Envirofund Project
7. Will we see any other marine life?
Some days- it depends on what the dolphins are up to. Some days when they are hunting you might see them chasing octopus, squid, local species of baitfish or tossing catfish through the air. We quite often see them hunting on the back of big stingrays and occasionally one of the local sea lions will join in on the fun.
8. Do you ever go out and not see any dolphins?
Occasionally it does happen- as with any operation that works with wild animals you can never guarantee that the animals will perform on cue every day of the year. We are very lucky in that the dolphins we visit are territorial so they are very consistent (we work on a better than 99% success rate) and it is highly unusual for us not to find someone who will interact with us.
Our commitment to you is to do our very best to provide every guest with the dolphin swim experience. Part of the reason why we don’t set a scheduled finish time for the tour is to ensure that we have plenty of time to stay on the water and keep searching if necessary. In the unlikely event that we are unable to swim with the dolphins we always offer passengers the opportunity to rebook another Swim with Wild Dolphins tour on another date. Sorry there are no refunds.
9. I get sea sick- is it rough where we are going?
The waters we usually work in are classified as partially smooth. They are mostly located within a sheltered bay so we are not exposed to the open ocean. However it does get choppy at times and everyone’s susceptibility to sea sickness is different. If you suspect that seasickness will be an issue for you we suggest you visit a pharmacy prior to the tour to obtain appropriate medication. We can not issue you with any form of seasickness tablet as they may interfere with other medication you are on or pre existing medical conditions.
Our top tips for seasick people during the Swim with Wild Dolphins tour are -
- Take every opportunity to get back in the water. Even if you are feeling absolutely terrible! It’s amazing how quickly you recover once you are off the boat and refreshed by the water.
- Don’t go into the toilets to be sick. Warm, confined spaces will only make you feel worse.
- If you are going to throw up, please do so over the side of the boat to avoid the chain reaction effect!
- Sip water- if you are being sick it is important to stay hydrated.
10. What if the weather is no good on the day of my tour?
We keep a very close watch on the weather and may have to cancel your tour if we believe conditions are going to be unsuitable to operate. When you book your tour it is important that you leave us with a contact number for where you are staying in Perth (preferably a mobile that you will be carrying with you on the day of your tour). If we need to cancel we will contact you to see if you can reschedule for another date.
On rare occasions we have to cancel a tour due to weather at the very last minute. This means our office may be trying to contact you between 6.00- 7.00am on the morning of your tour so it would be helpful if you could have your mobiles switched on just in case.
There is no charge to you if we have to cancel due to weather.
11. What’s the water temperature like?
It varies throughout the year between 18 in September through to 25 degrees Celsius during the Summer and Autumn Months. We have nice thick wetsuits and hoods to keep you warm.
12. Can we take photos/ film?
For the Amateurs-
You are welcome to take photos or film for your own personal/ non commercial use- we just ask that you don’t use a flash as it startles the dolphins. Getting a great image of the dolphins can be a bit tricky, especially for a first timer so we recommend that you don’t try to look through your cameras little view finder (very hard to do while you are wearing a mask!) simply hold the camera out in front of you, point and shoot when the dolphin is 1- 2 metres away.
For the Professionals-
If you are filming for commercial purposes we need to speak with you to fill out the appropriate paperwork prior to the tour. Please contact email@example.com to discuss your project.
13. I want to swim but my friend just wants to watch- can they join me on the tour?
Yes spectators are welcome. It costs $75 per spectator or $95 including a Perth CBD or Burswood Hotel transfer. They are welcome to bring cameras and to film.
Your friends may also want to consider our Shoalwater Safari Cruise. This is a 90 minute cruise that departs from our base in Shoalwater and includes dolphin watching. Quite often this boat will work alongside the Dolphin Swim boat so your friend may still get the opportunity to see you swimming with the dolphins. The Shoalwater Safari also cruises through the marine park to explore the islands, see nesting sea birds, rare Australian Sea Lions and concludes on Penguin Island in time to see the penguin feeding.
14. My child is 6 years or younger and can swim- is this tour suitable for them?
This is a decision that the parent needs to think carefully about as every child is different. We have had some children that have no fear of the water and were better suited to the experience than their parents. We have also had other children where new experiences, such as wearing a mask and snorkel or having to get off the back of a boat into water where they may not be able to see the bottom proved to be quite an ordeal and the poor child spent most of the tour onboard the boat being consoled by the parents.
We recommend the 6 year age limit because the child needs to be able to follow instructions, this is critical for safety and to ensure that the child does not behave in such a way that it may disrupt the enjoyment of the experience for other passengers.
If you are going to take the plunge with your child, we recommend that you spend some time getting your children comfortable with a mask and snorkel prior to joining the tour. This will definitely increase enjoyment for both child and parent. Wearing buoyancy aid devices are not recommended. They are designed to keep your child’s head above the water which is no good for enjoying the show as all the action takes place beneath the surface. We have wetsuits in small sizes for children that will help with their buoyancy- if you feel your child needs to wear a buoyancy aid then you should not be booking them on the tour. If you have any other specific enquiries relating to children please contact us.
15. I have a disability- can I join the Swim with Wild Dolphins Tour?
We have worked with many people with disabilities over the years and we will always do our best to cater for everyone. Our boarding facilities prevent wheelchair access so as long as you don’t mind being physically assisted then we are happy to help. Please contact us to discuss the nature of your disability so that we can ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.