Tumbling down the steep road to New Quay in Cardigan Bay, it’s difficult to imagine that this picturesque harbour, once the home of writer Dylan Thomas, is the access-point for one of the most exciting wildlife displays in Britain. But if you're lucky, a boat trip out of the harbour on one of Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre's boats may see you encounter scores of bottlenose dolphins. As if from nowhere a torpedo of shimmering grey-black bursts out of the glassy ocean swell as a large male dolphin comes to play in your bow wave, the ‘swoosh!’ from his blow hole like a blast of energy released from his powerfully muscled body. Then two, three, ten, maybe dozens more dolphins will join him, the bigger males playfully surfing the bow wave, leaping clear of the sea and snaking beneath the keel of the boat. Females and youngsters tend to remain at a safe distance, swimming alongside the males’ aquatic display in a more leisurely fashion, whilst the energy of the show-offs in the bow wave is instantly transferred to the spectators on the deck. It’s almost impossible to resist emitting whoops of sheer joy as these magnificent mammals effortlessly do their thing for no other reason than pure fun. Perhaps that’s why it brings a smile to your face – there’s a certain empathy in watching another animal revelling in the sheer joy of life. A display like this may go on for a few minutes or an hour or more, and it’ll put you in a good mood for the rest if the day. And that alone has to be a good enough reason for conserving the habitat of Cardigan Bay’s wild dolphins.
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