On the way to Duck Key, we stopped at the world famous History of Diving Museum. One couple assembled a vast collection of antique diving gear and then added enough modern equipment to bring us (alive) to the present. Here, Emmy practices with an old fashioned diving helmet:

On Duck Key, we stayed at Hawks Key Resort. This is a sort of unfortunate place. It was an ersatz experience: neither posh resort nor real and interesting.

The staff are all consistently nice and competent—so that is the good news. This property is basically at a level of Holiday Inn, which is acceptable. But, the price charged is around Four Seasons level—that is not OK. The property is newish, surrounded by real estate developments by the same firm. It has a completely sterile feel and seems a bit empty. Perhaps this will work, but seems unlikely. The funky, diverse Keys with people who actually live there offer good enough amenities and are far more interesting.

They have a dolphin pen containing 4 or 5 bottlenose dolphins. You can pay to pet them. They have informational placards. On one of those placards, they say the dolphins are happy, acknowledging we can’t ask them, but behaviorally the dolphins seem happy—as they are active and curious. They point out that dolphins live longer in captivity than in the wild. So, would you trade freedom to live longer in captivity? Maybe we are already in a form of captivity. That is way too philosophical for a vacation blog, so let’s drop it.

Is this pen a good thing or a bad thing? It must attract families to stay at the resort rather than go to a number of independent dolphin-captivity attractions. Dolphins are quite extraordinary. It is a joy to see them up close. One of them had a little game: he/she would flip water up into the air and catch the splash over and over again. This fellow/gal must really have liked this bit of play because he/she did it when no trainer was present and no fish treat/snack was proffered. Does it raise our consciousness of these animals (and possibly other less charismatic fauna) to see them? What to think? Am I just being a self-obsessed liberal do-gooder to even ponder this?

(Note bottlenose dolphin, lower right)