We generally find dolphins daily in a sandy bottomed area about 5′ – 15′ deep on the Gulf of Mexico side of Shell Island, often near the Jetty Rocks. Here, the dolphins are constantly on the move in search of fish to eat and doing the things dolphins do. Being inquisitive. (View a map of the location)
These are WILD dolphins in their natural habitat doing what they want to do. Our encounters observe them on their terms and depend on what they are doing and their mood. Encounters happen on nearly every trip, however, there is no way that we can guarantee it. We are bound by the laws of The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and subsequent amendments, in addition to the laws of the State of Florida. We are not allowed to feed or harass dolphins.
We snorkel and swim in the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay where dolphins range. If dolphins approach you while snorkeling, the law suggests that you enjoy the moment of close encounter and then go back to the boat. Because dolphins are almost always on the move, they usually move away fairly quickly, which makes going back to the boat unnecessary.
A maximum of six passengers per trip reduces the impact on dolphins. Like so many situations in nature, the more people want an experience, the more opportunity we have to disrupt the natural order. Sometimes dolphins may get agitated by our presence, so we move away to find a different group or go on to snorkeling the grass flats or exploring the back country of Shell Island. Often, we are able to return and see the dolphins again or find a different group.