Friday, September 19, 2014

Hello, Old Friends

Check out Delta, Flagler and Louie (plus Luna).
Every year, we welcome new faces to the DRC family in the Volunteer Resources Department. Some are snowbirds who spend the colder months down here in the Florida Keys, while others are college students or graduates looking to get some hands on experience in their field of interest. Recently, we welcomed a group of interns who volunteered several years ago who came back to visit their old stomping grounds.
The pair of interns, one from the Animal Care and Training Department and another from the Research Department came by to see both their human and animal friends. Much has changed since the last time they stepped foot at DRC. The dolphins had different living arrangements. Two more calves, Diva and Windley, were born. Animals, both dolphins and birds, knew behaviors that they weren’t even close to learning last time they were here. So much was different, yet still the same at the same time.
We know from experience that the dolphins remember old friends. We’ve had trainers who have left DRC for years come back and their old flippered friends greet them excitement. So it was no surprise that there were three boys who were very happy to see the old interns. Louie, Flagler and Delta, who now make up a small male group, seemed ecstatic to say hello.
As the girls greeted their favorite dolphins, the three boys squealed! They made all sorts of noises and even swam away from the trainers to see the girls out on the causeway. The interns were so excited that the boys remembered them.
We hear stories about things like this all the time and how special it is. Our dolphins touch the lives of so many people every day. We’re very fortunate to have such an amazing flippered family who make connections with all of us.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gypsi and her Imitations

As the Flipper granddaughter, Gypsi knows she reigns over what goes on during sessions. It’s very rare for her to decide she doesn’t want to hang out with humans, because she is one of our resident people watchers. She’ll spend hours eyeing up guests and then scream at staff members when they walk past the front lagoon. Since she is such a social butterfly, her trainers thought she’d be interested in switching up a few things in her day to say experiences.  Something we do with all the dolphins, once we see what activities they prefer.

The trainers get in the water with the dolphins to work on their relationships as well as to see what new ideas they can come up with for mental and physical stimulation. During their interactions, the trainers noticed Gypsi’s eagerness to do imitations away from the dock or submerged platform. Since we want to make every experience fun and exciting for both the dolphins and human participants, Gypsi helped in our decision to incorporate more in water options. She has already mastered how to do the imitations, including having people swim on their back and kick their legs up and down while she does the same with her flukes. We really think she enjoys this switch from the usual submerged platform interactions.

She’s one of the first dolphins partaking in this, since it’s very much her style, but we’re slowly testing the different dolphins’ interest level. Obviously, their lagoon is their home and we want them to feel comfortable at all times. However, everything depends on what we see the dolphins enjoy. While Gypsi is the most interested, one day she decided she wasn’t into it. Instead of doing what she was asked, she’d swim away to join a friend at another dock or simply not do what she was asked. That’s perfectly fine. The dolphins’ interest level is DRC’s number one priority. Hanging out with a dolphin is fun, regardless of what you’re doing so Gypsi stuck to her usual way of playing with guests and all had a brilliant time!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Suicide Prevention Week

September 7- 15 is National Suicide Prevention Week. In an effort to raise awareness about Suicide Prevention amongst our soldiers, Susan, a DRC supporter took part in The 8030 Project. Individuals  raise awareness for suicide prevention by centering their images around the number 22, the average number of soldiers that lose their lives on a daily basis. We were happy to give supply her with photos of our dolphin family, which she used to make a  beautiful collage.

You can view the dolphin collage and other tributes to our service men and women on The 8030 Project blog.

Throughout the year, we invite warriors to Dolphin Research Center to interact with the dolphins. The experience offers respite from the troubles they face on a daily basis as they ease back into civilian life. These encounters offer positive memories for the soldiers, which we hope anchors into their lives and continues to grow. For many of our heroes, this day is shared with friends and families.

We are always honored and humbled to give back to our heroes. Each experience with them is as refreshing as the first. It's amazing to see men and women, who face a variety of challenges, put their guard down, relax and enjoy dolphin time. Their smiles glow as brightly as the sun and their joy radiates throughout the facility.

If you would like more information on the programs we offer for soldiers, please click here to go to Special Needs portion of our website.

Monday, September 8, 2014

An interview between Jax, the dolphin, and Oliver, the dog!

Have you ever seen a conversation between a dog and a dolphin? Well, look no further. Our very own Jax, a rescued dolphin who was attacked by a shark when he was under a year of age, shares stories about his life here at Dolphin Research Center, meeting veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, and a bit more with Oliver Bovello. Check it out here!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Football Season is Finally Here!

At Dolphin Research Center the entire family is crazy for football so we had to share this awesome photo that truly sums up our excitement!

If you feel the same way, or just think the photo is super cute, please share it on your timeline via our personal Facebook page. Not only is it as easy as a click of the button, but your direct shares help us share our mission of teaching, learning, and caring for marine mammals and the environment. Plus, you'll also get to learn more about the family while seeing beautiful photos of them!
Don't have Facebook? No worries. Our business page is public, so you don't even need an account to see what's going on with the family. Just bookmark it and take a virtual walkaround of our facility whenever you have spare time.We update daily, so make sure to visit it whenever you can.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Talon Takes His Trainer on a Stroll

As the oldest Flipper grandchild, Talon certainly has a spark in him that can light up an already sunny day. He’s one of our guests’ favorite dolphins to view for narrations, always going above and beyond what anyone would expect from a true, laid back, conch kid. His high flying leaps soar in such a way that you can’t help but get a great picture, as long as you’re fast enough to capture it. Yup, Talon is one of those guys that you can’t help but adore. Recently, he showed off what kind of a gentleman he is. Working with his trainer, Kelly Jayne, Talon let his sweeter side shine.

Relationships are the starting point for all trainers and the dolphins. We want to make sure there is a mutual respect and understanding. So it’s always important to keep sessions fun and unpredictable. Talon, who is one of our largest males, doesn’t spend a lot of time doing in water interactions with his trainers. Sure, he does Dolphin Dips and Dolphin Encounters with visitors, but hanging out on the tray with an enthusiastic staff member is always a treat for this gentle giant.

On this particular day, Kelly Jayne got into the water with Talon and embraced him with a big hug! He seemed to curl up in her lap and take full advantage of all the special attention. Then, KJ decided it would be fun to show the crowd how big of a sweetheart Talon is by letting him take her on a date. She held out her arm for him and Talon immediately put his flipper in her hand. The two of them went on a stroll in the lagoon, with Kelly Jayne walking on the submerged platform and the handsome dolphin at her side.

When they finished their walk, Kelly Jayne asked Talon if he had fun. He nodded his head up and down very excitedly. Then she asked if he’d want to do it again and he pulled put his flippers out for a high ten. At the end of the session, you could see the excitement on Talon’s face and his trainer had a huge grin from head to toe.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

An Imitate Must

In the Dolphin Encounter program, individuals can ask the dolphins to imitate them. The most picked imitation is a splash, but there are others that are just as fun. The dolphins are excellent dancers, great at spit fights, and pros at copying sounds. Since Santini often strives to be an A+ student, her trainers often encourage guests to try complicated behaviors when they ask her to imitate.

Not a headstand, but Santini is great at all imitations!

If you know Santini well, then it’s obvious you cannot stump her by asking for a combination of behaviors. Staff has asked her to sing, spin in a circle and bob up and down all at once. They’ve even taken it a step further by doing one behavior, stopping when she gets the hang of it, then switching to another.  However, one lucky guest got to try his hand at a behavior that the dolphins often only do with their trainers.

A fan of Tina’s, the swimmer asked if the smart gal could copy a handstand. The trainer was assured by friends and family members that the participant could indeed do a handstand on the sometimes slippery, submerged platform. So, Santini’s trainer gave her the signal to imitate, and then waited to see what ensued. The swimmer took a deep breath, went under water and stuck their feet came out over the surface. After a quick glance, Tina took a breath herself and then popped up with her tail in midair.

As the whistle blew, both Tina and her imitate partner resurfaced to cheers and applause. It was one of the best imitates we’d ever seen! You could tell Tina was excited when she made her way back to her trainer on the dock. Not only does this guest have a great story, but the photographic evidence of this imitate is definitely worth a share!