Two dolphins up close with mouth open in the water
What to do when a dolphin comes up to you

What To Do When A Dolphin Approaches You? Flee Or Stay Still?

If a dolphin approaches you whilst swimming, you must be very careful and stop moving as much as possible do not try to flee. If you remain still, it will be easier for the animal to satisfy its curiosity about you. Do not try to swim towards the dolphin or panic. After all, dolphins are wild animals.

It does not matter how tempted you are. You should never try to touch a dolphin, even if they approach you voluntarily. While swimming in the ocean, you need to remember that the sea is your playground, but the sea is the dolphins’ home. So, you should respect its individuality and privacy even if it approaches you.

Dolphins are fascinating animals, and to see them in their natural habitat is a dream for many people. While there is nothing wrong with watching the daily life of adorable marine animals, you should always respect them and understand that they are wild animals, after all.

Should I swim with dolphins?

Several dolphin species are living in captivity all across the world. While some dolphin species are pretty friendly, not all are, and they all have different personalities that you need to keep in mind. 

You must be cautious if you are considering booking a trip to a tourist attraction to swim with dolphins. The first thing you need to do is conduct thorough research. Check which dolphin species you will be interacting with. Search the name of those dolphin species to find out whether those species are suffering from any negative impact of ecotourism.

Take the spinner dolphins, for example. Even though these dolphins are friendly toward humans, excessive ecotourism is taking its toll on these wild marine animals. It would be best not to encourage this by booking an attraction with them.

Check out the story from Joe Loria about why he will never swim with dolphins again.

Snorkelling or Scuba Diving

It’s best to meet dolphins whilst snorkelling or scuba diving with professionals. You dont always get the chance to meet a dolphin by this method. However, this is much more dolphin-friendly.


Whenever you face a pod of dolphins or a single individual, you should never jump into the water from the boat or actively swim toward it. Even if you are curious about the dolphins, your actions can stress them out. Not only that, but in extreme cases, your actions can even separate the baby dolphins from their mothers.

Consider yourself lucky and enjoy the unique experience as much as possible if you meet a dolphin. But do not forget that the dolphins should be responsible for the situation. 

Even if the dolphins grab your hand or feet, you should not panic. Dolphins are curious about your presence and trying to understand more about you. If you keep calm, it will leave when it completes its inquiry.

Do Not Pursue Wild Dolphins

Pursuing wild dolphins is illegal in most countries across the world. It can be considered wild animal harassment. 

You can aggravate the situation quickly if you actively swim toward the dolphin while it approaches you. Even if you want to check out the dolphin up close, the dolphin may consider you a potential threat. 

No Touching

You should never try touching a wild dolphin, even if it is close to you. Your most minor action can make these animals consider you a threat.

Remain Still, And Do Not Panic Or Flee

Even though dolphins have an image of being sweet and cuddly, it is not the truth. Dolphins are wild animals, and they can be pretty aggressive from time to time. Even though the number of dolphin attacks on humans is not that high, still a single wrong action on your part can make a dolphin potentially attack you aggressively. 

While swimming in the ocean, if a dolphin comes close to you, try to stop moving as much as possible. If you remain still, it will be easier for the animal to satisfy its curiosity about you, and there will be no chance of the dolphin considering you a threat. 

Please do not make sudden loud noises as they can startle the dolphins. Also, if you see a dolphin approaching you with a baby, you should slowly try to move away from them. Try to understand whether the dolphin is stressed or irritated with your presence. If you think that is the case, slowly move away from that place.

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Teresa Milne

Teresa is learning zoology and loves to share her knowledge through her articles. She is also a avid binge watcher of wild animal documentary's. Teresa has some pets that she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster. She has also studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition.