By Josephine Wawira
A blustery morning as showers of rain fall on Durban’s Golden Mile. Surfers brace the waves oblivious of the stunned onlookers. Past the bustling vessels on Durban Port, some docking and others setting sail; I reach the mighty uShaka Marine Park from Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel. Families walk in with kids looking overjoyed by the fun awaiting. Couples hand in hand while some just lone visitors seeking sole amusement. The thrill on everyone’s faces is enough to convince a first-time visitor like me that what lies beyond the entrance to the park resonates the sound of pleasure, and a spirit of intimacy.
Operations at the park provide unceasing entertainment at the Wet ‘n Wild, uShaka Beach, the Village Walk for night lovers and the Marine Sea World which is my point of interest. Walking down the lane across the well donned cultural shops displaying South Africa’s best of ethos, creates a unifying feel of being African. On arrival to the Sea World, the Dolphin Show is about to start. The music is on and the audience dances enthusiastically as if to cheer the incredible mammals ahead of a show time. I join in the dancing and voila! The camera gets hold of my ‘plausible moves’, (oh my Kenyan dance moves) winning me a ticket to experience a lifetime up close encounter with one of the dashing Dolphins, Gambit.
Amid claps, shouts, and envious looks I grandly walk to the front. Upon introduction by the remarkable trainers, Gambit waves at me in a display of charisma, intelligence and, nimbleness. According to records by the uShaka Sea World, he is believed to be the largest bottlenose dolphin in any oceanarium in the world. The majestic Gambit averagely weighs 470kg and is 3.6m long. At 46 years old, he is a father to 7 of the 9 dolphins born at uShaka Sea World and grandfather to 1. Surprisingly, at his ripe age, Gambit is an energizer bunny among the other dolphins.
After an entertaining time, I get to meet Gambit, up-close and personal. Not even the rain will stop me from having the experience, one that I will cherish forever. His streamlined body is soft and tender in the water. He calmly relaxes as I fondly pat on his back. Finally, comes the moment that I, and the crowd has been enthusiastically waiting for.
A kiss with Gambit! His irresistible charm gives me chills as his bottlenose adorably gets into contact with my lips. The audience cheers as love between Gambit and I, Josephine Wawira, fill the air. Then, he excitedly plunges into the water and waves goodbye with his flippers. A moment of magic, beguile, and absolute connection between human and a sea mammal is awe of God’s perfect creation. As you continue to touch the hearts and souls of many around the world like you did mine, Live Long Gambit!
uShaka Marine visit courtesy of South Africa Tourism & Jumia Travel