For the past 10 years, Nowdla Keefe and her trained naturalists have been visiting with a pod of spotted dolphins that lives north of Bimini. No guarantees, but 80 percent of the time guests are able to interact with the dolphins, usually by getting in the water and snorkeling with them. The spotteds seem to revel in the attention, and unlike their theme-park-familiar cousins, bottlenose dolphins, they're not shy of snorkelers, especially those who are comfortable in the water and can do graceful surface dives. 800-348-4644.
Sea & Discover
When you glide over a sea-grass bed, it's like soaring over a miniature forest with all sorts of curious animals hiding amid the blades. Marine biologist Caren Eckrich leads a Seagrass/Mangrove Ecosystem program in Bonaire's Lac Bay, as well as other courses covering fish courtship and mating, predator/prey interactions and underwater night life. Each half-day program combines a classroom session with an hour-long snorkel. 011-599-717-5322.
This award-winning, seriously eco-friendly boutique resort resort in the Bahamas employs an entire team of "nature concierges," trained biologists who escort guests to spectacular snorkeling sites and lead them on educational explorations of both the coral reef environment (Andros' barrier reef lies only 15 minutes away) and the intriguing world of the island's blue holes, including a unique underwater fracture site and its fascinating ecosystem. Guided snorkeling included in rates; 242-357-2489.
Under the Sea
Marine biologist Barbara Whitman has fashioned a fish-friendly educational center within the walls of a former restaurant on Oualie Beach. A short classroom session starts with Whitman's explanation of a marine mural depicting various underwater environments, then moves to hands-on "touch tanks" (go ahead, pet a moonsnail). Finish with snorkeling lessons and tours in the company of Victoria, the resident hawksbill turtle. 869-469-1291.