Operation Sunshine


Operation Sunshine logo1



Registered Charity Number 1121315


Operation Sunshine Family Therapy Programmes is a UK based International Charity which aims to bring joy and healing into the lives of those with additional needs through dolphin inspired education and art, community projects and family retreats.

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Bimini library

We are limited with how many special needs families in the UK and from locations around the world, we can take to swim with dolphins in their natural environment. However, from long term research by Dr. Horace Dobbs, we are sure dolphins can have a positive effect without actually swimming with dolphins. Dr. Horace Dobbs, a medical research scientist, has proved that the power of dolphins can influence our senses and sensitivities in very many different ways using art and music. Therefore, in between our dolphin swim programmes we are supporting various community and school projects with the concept of IDEAL.
Please see our Community Projects page and http://www.dolphinfriend.com/html/ideal_.html.. This way we believe we can make more of a charitable difference where it is needed worldwide.

GroupOperation Sunshine Family Therapy Programmes is a UK based charity helping special needs families throughout the UK and Internationally

In the warm, safe waters of the tiny island of Bimini, in the Bahamas, we offer children and young adults with special needs, the opportunity to fulfil their dream of swimming with dolphins. 

What’s so different about Operation Sunshine?

Operation Sunshine Family Therapy Programme offers families facing similar situations the unique opportunity to support each other in a trusting, caring, sharing and giving environment.

We are the only charity in the world that offers a programme for severely disadvantaged children that includes experiencing wild dolphin encounters using appropriate equipment and experienced, understanding staff and support workers.

By only working with wild dolphins, the results are significantly more powerful and life changing, they choose to be with the children, they are not lured and we ensure that they and their environment are respected

Bimini offers a small, secure community committed to supporting the programme.

The Programme benefits special needs families that include those with developmental disabilities, neuro-motor impairments and communication challenges.

How does it help?

  • This programme helps to educate and appreciate marine conservation.
  • It takes special needs families away from their everyday      existence and gives them the trip of a lifetime. This renews hope, strength and courage, restoring a broken faith in humanity and life.
  • It gives the parents respite in a supportive and caring environment
  • It enables the whole family to benefit from the activities on the programme to relax the body, relieve tensions, release of emotions, frustration, loss, fear and anger.
  • The programme stimulates the mind, aids concentration and increases learning ability.
  • The programme increases confidence and self-esteem
  • Participants learn new skills and take with them an enhanced feeling of well-being that will benefit beyond the programme.



We do not support dolphins being kept in captivity and therefore will not participate in programmes where dolphins are kept in such a way.

Our intention is always of minimal intrusion, and our dolphin swims are conducted with respect and awareness.

How do we ensure we protect and respect the wild dolphins and their environment…..

We follow a strict code of conduct provided by International Dolphin Watch:


IDW is a non-profit organisation for the observation, conservation and study of dolphins - especially their relationship with humans. 

Where is the evidence that an experience with dolphins can have a positive and powerful effect?…..

Dolphins by SonyaWhilst Operation Sunshine does not perform specific research, at this time, there are a number of other sources of support research, as well as our own experiences with those such as Benoit, Eve and Minga.

From long-term research by Dr. Horace Dobbs, BSc PhD, and author of many books, including Dolphin Healing, it has been found that an encounter with a wild dolphin can have a significant effect on children who are neurologically and physically impaired. Also a study by Dr. David Nathanson showed that children with brain damage, Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy and other mental and physical disabilities increased their learning abilities significantly after interactions with dolphins.

The people we are aiming to help….

Caring for children and young adults with severe physical and mental disadvantages is demanding and stressful on the whole family. Relationships and siblings often come second place, leading to tensions and anxiety. Operation Sunshine helps the whole family and their main carers by giving them a unique, supportive environment in which to express and release emotions, encourage communication and give them all the chance to embrace the future with confidence and courage.

Details about the programme….

BoatThe main part of the programme is a carefully managed respite stay in Bimini for the children, their family and main carers.

During the visit they will take trips out in a specially adapted boat with support staff. Our aim is to experience the wonders of swimming with wild dolphins and whilst we cannot guarantee the outcome of each trip, we are rarely disappointed!



Eve at Art Centre For the rest of the stay everyone can take advantage of a number of other activities which may include:

  • Arts and crafts such as pit firing on the beach, being creative with clay, making cane baskets and tie dying
  • Music and dance
  • Yoga and meditation
  • WatsuWatsu, a form of body massage (Shiatsu) performed while lying in warm water.
    The receiver of Watsu is supported by the therapist and because it is performed in the water, the body is free to be manipulated and stretched in ways impossible while on land.

Following on from respite…..

BooksOperation Sunshine maintains connection with families beyond the stay in Bimini with evaluations to monitor progress. We offer projects to schools in the children’s local community to extend the reach of Operation Sunshine and raise awareness of protecting and respecting wild dolphins and their marine environment. We also offer educational material such as books and presentations.


Here at Operation Sunshine we have seen and believe in the
benefits that an experience with wild dolphins can have on
children and young adults with special needs.
If you would like to help support, find out more or need our
help then please contact us.




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