Boat captain says Tampa Bay dolphins enjoy Yanni's music

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, November 13, 2015, 9:51 AM EST

Captain Larry Salkin has been offering dolphin tours for nearly eight years and said he has discovered that wild dolphins in Tampa Bay enjoy certain types of music.

"The two I found they’re most excited by are Yanni from the Acropolis and swing music," he said. "For some reason, they seem to be attracted to it. When I play other music, they don’t pay attention."

We went along with Salkin on a dolphin tour and, sure enough, more than a dozen dolphins began circling the boat when Yanni began playing on the stereo.

"I don’t know if it’s the high pitch of the violin and the pace. I don’t know what it is in it, but there’s something that catches their attention that they really enjoy," Salkin said. "First time it happened, I said, ‘no big deal.’ Second time, it caught my curiosity. The third time kind of confirmed it."

Salkin said it appears as though the dolphins that live in Tampa Bay like listening to two kinds of music: Yanni and swing music.

It's against the law to lure dolphins to a boat with food or do anything that alters their natural behavior. Salkin said he does not put his speakers in the water and plays the music for his guests.

"I don’t lure them in. They come to me if they want to. I’m playing music like anybody would play music on a boat," he said. "If they happen to like to listen to it, that’s their choice. I’m not doing anything to tell them to come here."

Salkin said some people call him the dolphin whisperer. The boat captain said a couple of mother dolphins even recognize his face. 

"Every year those same two females, and I recognize them because they have certain markings on their dorsal fin, they bring their calves to me," he said. "Lift their calves' head out of the water to look me in the face. So mommy tells them that’s the nice guy. I feel very honored."

Salkin is the owner of the Tampa Water Taxi Company and offers dolphin tours for $30, seven days a week.

"We see them almost 97 percent of the time," he said. "We have tons of dolphins here and they like to see us and we like to see them. So, it works out great for both us."