Is the Sea Lion Tour separate from the Dolphin tour?
No - The Sea Lion swim and the Dolphin swim is a combined tour. Both swims are completed on the one tour. Fact - We are one of the very few places in the world, if not the only one, to combine this type of tour for the one price.
Are your tours suitable for me?
Yes, our tour is suitable for all age groups. Swimming with the Sea Lions takes place in a safe enclosed relatively shallow pool close to their Island home. The swim with the dolphins however, is in deeper more open ocean conditions. Dolphin swim requires some self confidence and some swimming ability.
Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied in the water by an adult or guardian. Children 10 years and under must be accompanied by a parent.
Children that are under the age of 12 in the dolphin section of our swim is restricted to those who have good confident swimming ability and are able to use a snorkel and mask.
What are the best months for the tour?
Mid November through until mid March, always the warmest air and ocean temperature and most weather predictable months and suitable for all passengers to give it a go.
Generally summer ocean temperatures give us anywhere from 18 to 21 degrees celsius maximum.
Mid March until end of May can be very marginal with the higher seas of winter
setting in and the cold southern ocean currents swinging up from the Antarctic which decreases ocean temperatures rapidly along with the wind chill factor being even less.
Ocean temperatures can be as low as 9 degrees in July and August.
Beginning of September through until end of October can also be very marginal for cool and rough conditions.
Ocean temperatures during September and October are around 14 to 16 degrees Celsius, these temperatures increase rapidly as we climb into the predictable summer months.
Tours during the months of April and May, September and October are definitely not suitable for children under 12 years of age.
Our ocean temperatures are always cool here,
which is why we have such a pristine ocean environment and why the sea lions and dolphins are so healthy and happy, put it this way, if we had warmer oceans here,
we would have crocodiles instead of sea lions - certainly worth getting cold for, short time cold, long time warming up after.
I am disabled, can I go too?
Yes, disabled people are welcome but a bit of mobility and self confidence is required for the swim. The vessel in use is wheelchair friendly. If you want to have a shot, we will do our very best to help you to achieve your dream.
Do I need to book?
Definitely. It is strongly advised to pre-book seats in advance, especially during peak season of December, January and February. A deposit is required to secure seats. Deposits can be paid by phone with Visa or Mastercard or by direct bank transfer.
How do I know if my seat is confirmed ?
Your deposit receipt will be emailed to you once transaction is finalised. You will need to print off and present your receipt on arrival at the tour reception desk on the day of your tour.
How do I pay?
Pre-booked tickets with a remaining ticket balance can be paid on arrival before your tour commences. Tickets can also be pre-paid for fully if required. Tickets that are not pre-booked are purchased on the day on arrival at the tour desk before tour departure. Accepted forms of payment are by cash, Visa or mastercard.
What happens if the tour is cancelled?
If a tour is cancelled, we will do our best to get you on the next tour that is convenient for you.
What happens if the sea lions and dolphins don't turn up?
This is an important question. If no swimming is achieved throughout the tour, we will refund back to sightseeing fare as you will at the very least see the Sea Lions and "more" than likely will see the Dolphins up close from the boat. Sometimes the Sea Lions will upstage the dolphins and there are times when the Dolphins will upstage the Sea Lions. We do our best to make sure that an in-water interaction happens. It is a very rare occurrence that no swim happens with the Sea Lions or Dolphins, but this is a wildlife experience so no guarantees. If this does happen it is very disappointing for us as well as you, but we will give it our best shot and will persevere until the last moment before calling the tour off.
I am a sightseer, what if I change my mind and want to swim?
If you have pre-booked onboard as a sightseer and arrive at Baird Bay, the day is nice and calm and warm and you change your mind and want to swim, all you need to do is advise the receptionist and she or he will upgrade your fare to a swim tour. Once you are on the vessel as a sightseer, you are a sightseer and cannot upgrade. Any upgrade must be completed onshore before the tour commences.
How long is the tour?
We advise passengers to allow from 2 and a half hours to 4 hours for tour duration.
How far do we have to travel by boat?
Travel time to the swimming area is about 15 minutes.
Are we in the water on our own?
No - There is always at least one tour guide in the water with you to give you assistance when and if needed.
I cannot swim, can I participate?
Yes, you can if the weather conditions are suitable. Staff will advise you before the tour if the conditions are not suitable for weak swimmers. We can assist one on one using a floatation aid. Our wetsuits are specialised suits that also have good buoyancy and will help you float.
What is provided for us on the tour?
Mask, snorkel and wetsuit. Morning or afternoon tea on the vessel.
What do I need to bring?
You need to bring along a warm jacket to put on after the swim, camera, towel, swimwear and sunscreen. We do request that you do not apply any sunscreen before any in-water interaction, once the interaction is completed and you have returned to the vessel, you are able to apply as much sunscreen as you like. It is so important you bring a very warm jacket - you will get cold!
Why no sunscreen?
With any interaction, the marine mammals are very close to you. If you have sunscreen applied, you will create an oil slick on the surface of the water, thus making the sea lions and dolphins come up to breath through this. We don't think this is quite the right thing for us to do. Our tours are about the mammals - not us. They are good enough to give you their respect of allowing you to meet them, we should respect them by taking a little care in return as we are in "their" home.
I sunburn very easily, that is not fair, what can I do?
Wear a wide brimmed hat and a long sleeved Tee shirt - it is not fair on the marine mammals if you do wear sunscreen don't you think? A couple of hours in the sun has never hurt anyone if they are covered up.
What about sharks?
A good question that is asked by some and only thought about by most others too scared to ask.
The Great Australian Bight waters is home to many of these creatures, in particular the Great White Pointer. We will have been in operation for 2 decades and can rightfully say we have never had a problem. This is not to say that we won't ever have a problem, our interaction is in the sea, it is not our natural environment, it is theirs. We all take the risk of a shark attack no matter what sea around the world we swim in or where we swim, it can be off a metropolitan beach in less than a metre of water, it is the risk we take to enjoy an experience in a magical wonderland.
We take the best precautions for passenger safety, shark shields are worn by the guides and are activated at all times in with the dolphins. We have onboard the vessel a larger shield to be put in use if backup is required. Over 20 years experience has given us some insight as to when we cannot enter the water or we need to get out of the water by reading the behaviour of both sea lions and dolphins on the day. We don't know it all - but we do know a little bit.
On this tour, the risk lies with the dolphin section. Myth has it that where there are dolphins there are no sharks - this "is" only a myth - as any threat will be where the dolphins are and not with the lions. Dolphins and sharks co-exist, swim together and even play would you believe. It is only when a shark gets hungry is there a problem.
Science has it that the sea lions and seals are a sharks favourite food, not so true, a sharks favourite food is anything that is there that it can eat when it is hungry. Sharks do hang around sea lion and seal colonies as it is easy pickings for them - bit like a hobo hanging around a restaurants back door waiting for when the left over food is thrown out.
To swim in the sea like we do, passengers need to be aware and take on some responsibility for their own actions in order to achieve what is thought to be the impossible dream.
Have you seen any sharks in Baird Bay?
Yes we have. Each and every year we see Bronze Whalers mainly. Any actual sightings of Great Whites are rare, we have only ever physically seen three in this Bay over the years.