The Outside Prognosticator: Come Spawn With Me
You feel a tad slimy, but mostly smooth and sleek in the water. Your pink-bellied brethren are beside you, deftly slicing upstream through the current. You are salmon.
Actually, you are a paying customer, and you're on Vancouver Island with Campbell River Snorkel Tours, which for $37 will take you swimming with the local sockeyes on a four-hour journey upriver. The trip is hardly unique, as the been-there-seen-that crowd increasingly looks to the next plateau: achieving face-to-snoot intimacy with native fauna.
"There's been a natural progression from merely seeing wildlife to getting as close as possible to it," says Sean Jones of Natural Habitat Adventures, which transports snorkelers to humpback whale calving grounds for a fin-slapping pool party. This year, other companies will help intrepid tourists "be" a Southeast Asian forest bison and an anteater in the South Pacific.
"People come back with a new perspective," says Jones, explaining why you should snuggle up to a critter with a tongue longer than Jim Carrey's. "The wildlife sets the itinerary. You're just along for the ride."