Ever since I can remember, dolphins have always been my favourite animal, and as a child I often had dreams of swimming with them and would wake happy from my encounters with those wise, joyful creatures. When I was 6, my parents rented a small apartment on Lido beach in Sarasota- Florida, and I used to see bottlenose dolphins there often, both in the sea and the intracoastal waters when we went out on a boat, and even just seeing them in the distance would fill me with joy. We returned every year and I always felt this inexplicably strong connection to them, something beyond logic. I used to read and watch everything I could about dolphins, and I wondered if I might one day work with them in some way but I wasn’t really drawn to studying sciences and it didn’t feel right for them to be in small tanks in captivity so I didn’t know how.
Fast forward many years, and a journalist friend of mine called Michael Leventhal, invited me to join him going to a Dive show in England. He told me that Jacques Mayol, the world champion freediver would be there, and he was interviewing him. The Luc Besson film ‘The Big Blue’ had had a huge impact on me. There was someone else out there who felt the same way I did about dolphins; and the music, cinematography and freediving storyline made it one of my favourite films. I joined Michael and we watched a talk that Jacques gave about dolphins and their relationship with humans. It was fascinating and we met and spent time with him afterwards. By that point he was 74 but still a charming man and an inspiration, and he and I got on brilliantly. He gave me his book ‘Homo Delphinus’ and signed it: “Dear Jacqueline. They, (the dolphins) are waiting for you.”
I stayed in touch with Jacque’s right hand man from the dive show, Steve McCulloch, who lived in Vero beach- Florida and worked with rescuing injured dolphins, rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild . Not long after I visited him when I was in Florida and joined him on a work trip of his to the Bahamas where we did a shark dive with lemon, Caribbean reef, nurse and black tip sharks. The next day’s dive was meant to be just for fun, and I was the first to go in…. Within about a minute of entering the turquoise clear waters, three Atlantic spotted dolphins showed up and stayed to play with me for over an hour. They swirled around me. I could hear their clicks and whistles all around me and feel their echolocation reverberating through me. The water was warm and crystal clear and I was filled with joy and gratitude and actually I remained in a euphoric state for about three weeks afterwards. Soon after that dive, Jacques Mayol sadly died, which made it all the more poignant, as if he’d sent those dolphins to me, fulfilling his written prophecy.
As the years went by, I studied some portable skills like teaching English and Yoga. My passion for the environment and humanity’s wider issues grew strong and led to me leading community and environmental based trips in South America, Africa and Asia, as well as leading yoga retreats globally and having some real adventures, yet throughout these years I never forgot the dolphins and I revisited that dive in the Bahamas in my imagination many times.
Then unexpectedly in 2021, one day during the covid lockdown in England, dolphins came to me in a dream again which was a pleasant surprise. The very next day I spoke with a friend who is very intuitive and mid conversation she said: “I see you working with dolphins by a desert.” I pondered on the coincidence, and her comment made me think of Egypt, so I googled ‘dolphins, yoga, Egypt’ and came across www.althurayaredsea.com. Despite there being no job available I felt strongly that I should reach out, so I did, sending my yoga biog and mentioning my love of dolphins, the sun, Egypt’s ancient sacred sites etc and asking if I could be of use to them. Two weeks passed, then a wonderful soul called Marie Falkering responded saying we should definitely stay in touch about it as she might soon want someone to collaborate with and she had a good feeling about it, so we had a couple of zoom chats and had to overcome a few hurdles, yet before I knew it I found myself here in Egypt working with her on their Yoga and Wild Dolphin Swim Retreats in a magical spot called Sataya in the Red Sea. This work combined my love of dolphins, my yoga training, my passions for the environment and ancient sacred sites, sunshine and freediving. It fit like a glove. It seems life has finally found a way for me to work with my beloved wise, joyful dolphins whilst allowing them to be wild and free, in their own environment. If they show up and invite us in, we swim with them. They decide, and I like it that way.
Global friends...anyone out there... if you feel the call, when you are willing or able to come, I can’t recommend it enough. Come swim, dive or freedive with dolphins on their invitation, in their environment under the sun. Sleep on deck under the stars (or in your own cabin of course if you prefer,) treat yourself to yoga and healthy food and take in the unparalled ancient history of this amazing country. Feel free to reach out for more information anytime or browse the Al Thuraya website. Come share in the magic. The dolphins send you their love and if you’re feeling the call, as they were for me…… they are waiting for you. 🙏💓🐬☀
By Jacqueline Wigglesworth