Because the animal kingdom is so large, we rarely get to see what the world has to offer. However, it’s fair to say that there are some animals we wouldn’t want to get up close and personal with. In our animal hierarchy, the herbivores come first – because we know for sure that they wouldn’t fancy a bite of our leg or arm when we meet them. Yet, carnivores are a bit trickier. While we often believe that we are at the top of the food chain, there are many carnivores who wouldn’t think twice about tucking into a human for their dinner. There are other carnivores, however, who don’t really like the taste of us. Instead, they spend their days eating fish and insects and going about their business. Although dolphins are carnivores, they survive off a diet of shrimp and crustaceans and have a relatively good relationship with humans.
Thanks to their impressive intelligence, fun nature and social circles within their own pods, dolphins are incredibly docile creatures. Because of this, us humans jump at any chance to interact with them. We might spend hundreds of dollars to swim with dolphins in Florida, we might laugh along as they jump through hoops or balance a ball on their nose, or we might look for them in the wild as they swim through the oceans. Few of us will get the chance to see these dolphins from afar in the wild, and even fewer will get the chance to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. Yet, one swimmer got the chance of a lifetime when he got to swim with dolphins. However, what he didn’t realize was that these dolphins were there for a whole other reason…
A dolphin swimmer
Although us humans rarely interact with other animals within the food chain, there’s just something about dolphins that draws us in. Perhaps it’s their obvious intelligence, their adorable squeaks, their rubbery skin, or even the fact that they always seem over the moon to be near a person. Because of this, many of us make it our mission to see these marvelous dolphins at least once in our life. While many people add ‘swim with dolphins’ onto their bucket list, one swimmer got the shock of a lifetime when dolphins started swimming with him. Yet, as soon as he looks down, he understands why, and his life then changes forever…
The man in question
However, to truly understand this story, we have to know about the man in question. Who is the swimmer? Well, you may have heard the name, Adam Walker. This is because Adam is a professional motivational speaker and endurance athlete. A few years before his experience with the dolphins, this Brit was working the daily grind in an office. He would work, eat, and repeat this process every single day, and he was bored of the monotony. After the kettle and toaster salesman watched the swimming movie, On A Clear Day, while traveling on an airplane, he vowed to himself that he was going to get himself out of that rut and challenge himself.
A new mission
It was at this moment that Adam made it his mission to become an endurance athlete. Specifically, he wanted to become an endurance swimmer and push his body to the limits to achieve more than a few toaster sales. As soon as this new mission entered into his mind, Adam set about his plan. He started training his body to endure long stints in the water without breaks, and he started training his mind to push him through these lengthy processes and allow him to reach the other side of success.
Becoming the first
As soon as Adam was ready to hit the open water, he set himself impressive goals to complete. In 2008, he successful swam the English Channel and then set his sights on the Strait of Gibraltar. Instead of simply crossing the strait and returning home via another mode of transport, Adam pushed himself to make a return journey. Amazingly, he completed this mission and became the first ever Englishman to do this. However, these missions weren’t always easy, and Adam often found himself in the face of danger during his endurance swims…
In the face of danger
Becoming an endurance swimmer is no easy feat, and Adam Walker soon realized that his journey was going to a long and painful one. In fact, he fell at the first hurdle! After making his debut into the open ocean, Adam contracted hypothermia and had to take a few months away from swimming to recover. Nevertheless, he came back with a bang and completed impressive missions. During this time he encountered even more freezing conditions, as well as many painful souvenirs – including a sting from a Portuguese Man ‘O War.
Just after Adam completed his two-way swim of the Gibraltar Swim, the Oceans Seven Challenge was born. This challenge inspired endurance swimmers from around the world to swim seven open water destinations across the world, including the North Channel, the Cook Strait, Tsugaru Strait, the Molokai Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar and the English Channel. In 2014, Adam set his sights on his sixth mission within the challenge… to swim the Cook Strait between North and South New Zealand.
The Cook Strait
Swimming the open water of the Cook Strait ultimately took Adam a whopping 8 hours and 36 minutes to complete – but that wasn’t the most testing aspect of his mission. Part-way through his endurance swim, Adam noticed that he wasn’t alone in the water. As he noticed more and more fins come towards him, he started to question his safety in the open ocean. However, he began to calm down when he realized that the fins belonged to a pod of dolphins, who were swimming towards him.
He was surrounded
However, the dolphins didn’t simply swim past him and go about their business. Before too long, Adam realized he was surrounded by the dolphins and that they were swimming along with his own strokes. Adam was both confused and worried. Although he knew that dolphins were relatively harmless, he also knew he was open prey in his current position. What were they going to do? Were they going to hurt him? Was he going to be able to finish his challenge? Dangerous thoughts started running through his mind…
Adam battled with his emotions and struggled to maintain the excitement of swimming with dolphins with the worry of their unusual behavior. Nevertheless, he was there to complete a mission and decided to carry on swimming. It wasn’t until Adam used his goggles to look down below him that he realized why the dolphins had been tailing him, and what their intentions were. Adam immediately caught his breath and couldn’t believe what he was seeing below the surface of the water that had caused the dolphins to swarm…
An extra fin
Beneath the surface, Adam noticed an extra fin he hadn’t seen before. Although he had counted around ten dolphins surrounding him, this fin was different. In fact, the whole creature was completely different. That was because it was a shark! Adam was absolutely overwhelmed with emotion, and couldn’t contain the fear in his body. Before he set out on his mission, he was told by an expert not to worry about the presence of sharks, because they rarely made an appearance in the Cook Strait. Unfortunately, one of them did that day.
On the warpath
As soon as Adam looked down at the shark, he could tell that he was on the hunt. The shark was tailing his every move, and skulking through the water as if following its prey. However, there was something stopping this shark from making its move. Although Adam knew that he was hungry and was looking for its next dinner, the shark was staying a clear distance away from him, and he started to wonder why. As he started to think about his next move, Adam immediately realized why the shark wasn’t pouncing.
Almost instantly, Adam realized that the dolphins weren’t swarming around him to intimidate him or to harm him in any way. Instead, they were protecting him from the shark! Their actions seemed to pay off, as the shark eventually got bored of his game of shark-and-human, and swam off to find another dinner source. At this point, Adam assumed that the dolphins would leave him to his mission – but they didn’t. They continued to swim with Adam for around another 90 minutes before they swam off.
Adam was amazed at the intelligence and compassion the dolphins were showing him, and how brave they were to stand up to the shark. After the event, Adam spoke of his experience with numerous media outlets, including The Sun. During one interview, he noted that the dolphins were swimming so close to him that he would often brush their tails and their fins. Yet, this didn’t scare him. Despite the fact that he was “wedged in,” he “felt very protected” and knew that the dolphins were there to help him.
The presence of the dolphins around Adam pushed him even more to complete his challenge. Although he had faced a predator in the face, he had received protection from one of the most intelligent animals on the planet and knew that he couldn’t give up. So, he used all of his energy and all of his might to start swimming faster. As soon as the dolphins realized that Adam was okay on his own and was swimming towards safer territory, they eventually left him to complete his mission by himself.
Since the incident, many people have asked Adam why he thinks the dolphins were there to save him – and he has the perfect response. After researching dolphins, their characteristics, and their talents, he learned that dolphins actually swim a whopping six times faster than professional 50m sprinters. Adam was swimming at a much slower pace than that, which meant that the dolphins forced themselves to slow down their swimming to ensure he was safe at all times. The compassion and protectiveness showed to him by these dolphins – who weren’t even the same species as him – truly touched Adam’s heart.
Most people are aware that dolphins are highly intelligent creatures. In fact, many scientists believe that dolphin intelligence is second only to humans, while some would even go as far to say that they are even more intelligent than humans. They have an incredible ability to understand complex situations, and they react to them in a way that showד intelligence, but empathy as well. This is likely why they reacted the way they did when they noticed a shark lurking near Adam.
For anyone who has ever swam in open water, seeing a shark can easily become your worst nightmare. We’ve all seen the horror stories on the news and prayed that would never be us. In reality, shark attacks are not very common, and statistically you are unlikely to be killed by a shark. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly dangerous creatures. If you see one you are better off staying as far away as possible. Or try to get a pod of dolphins to protect you like Adam did.
Dolphins vs sharks: the ongoing battle
Perhaps another reason the dolphins decided to protect Adam is because sharks and dolphins do not get along to begin with. Sharks have been known to try and attack dolphin calves for their meals, as well as lone dolphins separated from their pods. Dolphins often fight off sharks as a group, leading to many sharks being wary when they see a pod of dolphins swimming together. Even sharks would rather find a new meal then risk getting beat up.
Dolphins to the rescue
Adam’s story is hardly the first time we’ve heard of dolphins rescuing humans, and we hope it won’t be the last. In fact, besides being intelligent, dolphins have gained quite the reputation for helping people. For example, in 2004 a pod of dolphins saved four lifeguards in New Zealand from a shark attack by forming a protective circle around them. In 2007 a surfer named Todd Endris was attacked by a shark when a pod of dolphins stepped in and fended off the shark, ultimately saving his life.
Dolphins don’t just save people from shark attacks, they’ve been known to save people in other ways too. One man in 2012 was shipwrecked while out in the ocean and was saved by dolphins who helped guide him back to shore. Another story from 2014 tells the tale of dolphins who not only saved a girl from drowning, but led scientists who were out on the water to find her so she could be properly rescued. Dolphins truly do incredible things for humans.
A dream come true
More than anything, Adam was grateful for his protective crew, but he was also over the moon to witness his dream coming true; as an endurance swimmer and ocean lover, it was always a dream of his to surround himself with dolphins and swim with them in the wild. Amazingly, he got to live that dream! However, this experience was so much more than that. Through this ordeal, Adam truly learned more about dolphins than any of us ever will, and got closer than ever to these magical creatures. Yet, he did have a bone to pick with someone…
No sharks allowed
After he completed his mission and found himself on dry land, Adam Walker sought out his friend who had told him not to worry about sharks. He relayed his story and let them know that sharks really do swim around the Cook Strait – because he was the shark’s dinner for a while! Thankfully, he got out of his sticky situation with a little help from his dolphin friends and managed to tick off another challenge on his list. He just had a few more to go…
The only one
Today, it’s been over four years since Adam Walker took on his sixth Oceans Seven Challenge and battled with sharks in the Cook Strait. Since then, Adam has completed all seven challenges! In fact, he became the first British person to ever complete it. As if that wasn’t enough, Adam has also bagged himself numerous other achievements, and has also become the first Brit to swim from Spain to Morocco, as well as the first Brit to swim the Tsugaru Channel and the Molokai Strait!
Sharing it with the world
After Adam experienced a life-changing moment, he was keen to share his success with his followers on social media. He not only updated them on his mission and the fact that he had completed another one of the Oceans Seven challenges, but he also updated them on the dolphins, and his own brush with death. He put his success down to the intelligence and the courage of these dolphins, who protected a stranger in their ocean just because they could. Naturally, his fans were overwhelmed by his story.
Filming his experience
Although Adam Walker plans to continue his career as an endurance swimmer, he has also used his fame and talent to open up new opportunities. He now travels the world as a motivational speaker and shows his documentary to fellow swimming enthusiasts. Yes, Adam has made a documentary about his time in the Cook Strait with the dolphins, and has called it “Conversations With Dolphins.” Perhaps this movie will inspire the next generation, just as Adam was inspired all those years ago while watching a movie on an airplane.
Passing on his knowledge
With his success at swimming the Oceans Seven behind him, Adam wanted to be able to pass on everything he learned. While some of his lessons come through in his motivational speaking, from a more practical standpoint Adam also teaches specialized swimming classes. His classes are called Ocean Walker, and the goal is to help teach swimmers who also want to accomplish the Oceans Seven. He offers them unique tips for how to swim effectively in the ocean, and how to avoid injuries they may not have considered.
As part of his determination to pass on his knowledge of swimming in the ocean, Adam ended up achieving another first by becoming the first ever Open Water Lifeguard in 2015. Swimming in open waters has become an increasingly popular sport, and both Adam and the proper authorities hope that with this new qualification they can keep swimmers as safe as possible. With his extensive experience swimming in dangerous oceans it was felt that Adam was uniquely qualified to spearhead this initiative.
Adam’s dream of completing the Ocean Seven challenge was not one that was accomplished easily. He overcame many challenges in order to achieve his dream, and he never let any obstacle stand in his way. This is the message that Adam strives to impart on his audiences through his motivational speaking engagements. After sharing his story he typically ends his talk by telling them to never give up on their dreams, which coming from him is quite inspirational.
Writing it down
After everything that he accomplished with his record breaking swims, Adam felt that this wasn’t just something he wanted to share with locals, he wanted to tell his story to the world. So, Adam wrote it all down and in 2016 published his book, Man vs Ocean: A Toaster Salesman Who Sets Out to Swim the World’s Deadliest Oceans and Change His Life For Ever [sic]. His book has been very successful, and received numerous positive reviews on sites such as Amazon. Readers have found it to be both entertaining and inspirational.
In the news
Adam’s hope that his story would reach people around the world came true. The story of the dolphins protecting him from the shark, as well as his accomplishments with the Oceans Seven, made news all over the world. He has appeared in many publications such as the BBC, Fox News, OneNews, Huffington Post, The Independent, Vanity Fair, and many other online publications. He has also done live interviews with a number of local news stations in the UK.
Dolphins in film
Dolphins are so amazing, and between their sweet and playful nature, the way they protect humans, and their adorable looks, it’s hard not to fall in love with them. Perhaps this is why dolphins have made numerous film appearances, with some even centering around dolphins entirely. Some notable titles include Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (based on the eponymous book series), Flipper, Dolphin Tale, and Zeus and Roxanne. Put a dolphin on the cover, and we guarantee we’ll be in front row ready to watch it.
The myth and the legend
Being fascinated and enamored with dolphins is hardly something new to humans. In fact, dolphins were even popular in ancient times. In Ancient Greece dolphins even appeared in some of their myths and legends. They can also be seen in ancient art work, like this fresco found at the palace of Knossos, or in paintings that detail their gods, like the god of love Eros riding a dolphin. There are even stories from Greeks and ancient seafarers of dolphins rescuing sailors from the sea. Sounds like they’ve been up to their human helping ways for a long time!