Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Pax!



Happy Birthday to the one and only, Pax, who turns 17 today! Born right here at DRC on March 30th, 1997 to Rainbow and Tursi, Pax enjoys lots of interaction and attention from his human family members. He's known as a prankster and will often get people (and other dolphins) soaking wet when they're not looking. Not only does he have a great sense of humor, but he's also extremely athletic. Him and his brother, Talon, love to show off how high they can fly whenever they're asked for high energy behaviors. Pax also loves to play a game called "innovate" where he's asked what he would like to do. Nine times out of ten, he does somersaults in the water followed by a huge grin on his face when he pops back up at the dock. Happy Birthday Paximus, we love you!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Flippin' Out



We train the dolphins a variety of behaviors to keep them physically fit. Since they do not need to hunt for their food, they do not expend as many calories as their cousins in the wild. To stay healthy the dolphins need exercise, just like us.

Already one of the more athletic marine mammals here at Dolphin Research Center, even though she’s only seven years old, Gypsi is skilled at many behaviors. She has one of the best back tail walks we’ve ever seen and loves to go out for dives and speed runs. Since she comes from a very athletic set of parents (Dad and Mom are Rainbow and Tursi), it’s in her genes to be sporty.

Gypsi is currently working on her front flip with the help of her trainer, Loriel. She’s passed the initial steps of following a target pole underwater to understand what motion she should make to do the completed behavior. Now, she flies through the air and does a 360 degree turn. However, she has not mastered how to get back into the water once she does her flip. A lot of times, she flops back in tail first or in a side breach.

One of the ways Loriel helps Gypsi correctly maneuver herself is by indicating that she wants her to hit the target pole with her tail once she’s done the full circle. The extra kick will give her the right placement to get into the water in a graceful dive. Though this behavior is still not complete, it’s amazing to see how quickly Gypsi learns. Every day, with Loriel’s enthusiastic encouragement, she improves on her front flip and soon we’ll be able to see her catapult herself out of the water just like her mom, Tursi.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Fun Session with Great Boys

These three are certainly a great match.

 
Dolphins each have their own unique dolphinalities. A.J. is a gentleman with a sweet heart and calm nature. Tanner is incredibly smart and curious. Sandy is creative and silly. Each of these fantastic guys bring something to the table that the others don’t. That’s what makes working with them so fun every day.

During a play session, A.J., Tanner and Sandy spent time with some of the newer trainers. It was an opportunity for the newbies and the dolphins to bond and deepen their relationships with one another. Throughout the session the boys engaged in various activities from surfing on a Frisbee, to adlibbing, to simply getting loved on.

In the middle of the session, one of the trainers wanted to play the retrieval game with Sandy. She chose three different objects; a hula hoop, a dive ring, and a mangrove pod and threw them out for Sandy to go get. Sandy had no interest in retrieving the objects but as one of our best hula-hoopers, Sandy went straight to his favorite object to show off his skills. As he hula hooped, A.J. and Tanner took off to grab the other objects. A.J. brought back the mangrove pod while his son showed up with the dive ring. When the trainers tried the retrieval game with Sandy again, he grabbed the hula hoop once more and strutted as he hula'd throughout the length of the entire lagoon. A.J. was able to grab the mangrove pod but the dive ring disappeared for a while, until Tanner randomly brought it to the dock at the end of the session.

These three awesome guys really know how to show us how smart they are in their own unique way. Sandy enjoys making us smile, A.J. loves to melt our hearts and Tanner always reminds us that he’s one smart dude. The three boys together make one great session at a lagoon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reese's Favorite Subject

 
On a recent field trip, a member of Dolphin Research Center’s Education Department asked a group of first graders what their favorite subject was in school. It turns out their favorite part of the day is number one on Reese’s list too. Both Reese and the First Grade class love…. Playtime!
At DRC, we like to make learning fun for both humans and our animal family. Play time serves as a learning experience on how to interact with one another and also allows the dolphins to discover new things. Reese has already learned so much from his mother, Santini, and the other dolphins because we make everything here exciting.
For this session in particular, Reese was introduced to new toys. Some of them he’d seen before but never played with, like a floating Kong toy, while others were toys he enjoys interacting with, like his miniature basketball. Reese had a blast as he tried to bring the toys back to the dock. Hula hoops and target poles were snatched up by the other dolphins, but that didn’t bother Reese because he’s not quite big enough to play with those toys yet. Plus, he’ll learn how to interact with objects by watching his friends use them.
As Reese learns to play and becomes accustomed to a variety of toys, he will learn essential building blocks for other types of play and cognitive games. Soon he’ll know how to retrieve multiple items and down the line possibly learn how to match two similar objects. Considering how smart his mom and his big brother, Tanner, are there’s a great chance that Reese may be a research dolphin!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Talon and Pax Make a Splash



As brothers, Talon and Pax are always trying to one up each other. They love to show off to the crowd and make people smile with their hilarious antics. Recently, they had fun when their trainers decided to do an all out silly session. Half of the session included seeing what kind of combo behaviors the boys could do while the second part was all up to what Talon and Pax wanted to do as they were free to adlib.

The first half of the session the boys took turns showing off. Talon was asked to “talk” while he wiggled his flippers and dove through the air. Then Pax was asked to dance while he sang and skipped around his lagoon. Talon and Pax went back and forth adding a gator twist to their shark behavior, high flying crazy dolphin imitations, and giggling mid flip. Everything they did was hysterical and challenged them to think about each behavior on a different level.

Then their trainers turned the table and asked what the boys felt like doing. As always, the pair made lots of waves as they splashed, cart wheeled and spit water at their friends on the dock. A few times Talon and Pax disappeared for a minute and then popped up out of the water recreating some of the combination behaviors their trainers had previously asked of them.

While all sessions with Talon and Pax are fun, this one was exceptionally amusing. It was great to see how much excitement the boys shared with their trainers. They were in high spirits throughout the rest of the day.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Tanner!

 
Join us in singing Happy Birthday to the world famous, Tanner! This handsome young man was born at DRC on March 13th, 2002. Son to Santini and A.J., he not only only has great looks but he's extremely intelligent too. He loves to play cognitive games and took part in both of our Blindfolded Imitation studies. We asked Tanner to copy the behaviors of another dolphin while wearing eyecups (soft, lat...ex suction cups that completely cover his eyes). And….he could do it. Not only that, but we took it a step further and asked him to imitate a human in the water while blindfolded and he did it again! With these studies, Tanner and DRC have shown that dolphins not only have the ability to imitate, but can imitate with a kind of problem-solving flexibility that's never been seen outside of humans. Tanner has shown off his research skills for journalists and television shows around the globe. Following in the flukeprints of his dad, Tanner loves attention and is known to be a flirt when it comes to the ladies. Next time you're out on the causeway, blow him a kiss and see if you get a "smooch" back. Happy Birthday, Tanner. We love you!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Love Struck Louie


 
Louie only has eyes for Cayo.

It’s become very apparent that Louie has the hots for Cayo. Despite being a few years younger than the pretty girl, Lou seems to have won her heart. The two spend ample amounts of time together, even leaving sessions for quick a rendezvous when they’re stationed at different docks.

Louie is so smitten with his girlfriend that he’s even shown an interest in her favorite hobby. Cayo is a known people watcher and lately we’ve found the lovebirds together by the front lagoon wall. The two show up at the same time, stare at guests for a while, and then swim off, undoubtedly comparing notes on what they’ve seen.

Usually rambunctious, the love-struck guy spends much more time with his gal than his male friends in the lagoon. Even Cayo’s best friend, Gypsi, approves of the relationship. On occasion she joins them for a lap or at the seawall for a bit before giving them alone time.

It feels like just yesterday Cayo was a little girl and Louie arrived at DRC. It’s so cute to watch them grow up before our eyes.