Thursday, July 31, 2008

Check Out DRC on Suze Orman's Website!

Recently, internationally known financial expert, author, and television personality Suze Orman visited Dolphin Research Center with family. They enjoyed a fun-filled Dolphin Encounter with Tursi, Gypsi and Jax. We had a great time meeting them all!

Now Suze has shared her experience with her fans and audience via her electronic scrapbook. To view photographs and a video of Suze's visit to DRC, visit Suze's site at

Thanks for your support and for joining the DRC family, Suze.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Did You Know? (Conservation Tip)

Using less gas saves money and the environment.

If you want to save gas, not to mention money from a speeding ticket and increased insurance rates, don’t speed. Slowing down gains two to four miles per gallon more than zooming everywhere like a racecar driver.

Avoid the "drag strip" mentality. Getting to your destination safely is the winning goal and gunning it only wastes more gas.

Keep your tires properly inflated. Can you imagine how much harder it is to move your car with flat tires? Under inflated tires waste gas and decrease the life of the tire. Overinflated tires also lessen tread life and can be dangerous.

Remove all unnecessary items inside the vehicle. (The bowling ball you left in the car last week, or the 20-pound bag of dog food.) Extra weight in the vehicle wastes gas.)

Plan your trips carefully. Combine several short trips to do all your errands. Avoid traveling during rush hours if possible. This reduces fuel-consumption patterns such as starting and stopping and numerous idling periods. Consider joining a car pool.

Consider a TerraPass to compensate for the carbon dioxide created by your car-
Click here to find out more about TerraPass.

Carbon dioxide emissions cause coral bleaching and death. Coral reefs are “fish nurseries” which produce food for many other ocean species. Less coral = less fish = less food for marine mammals.

In the United States, we use about 400 million gallons of gas a day.
Let’s decrease that number!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dolphin Dreams Come True - Swimmingly

We frequently hear from guests that interacting with dolphins is something they’ve dreamed of doing. Just recently, a visitor came out of her Dolphin Encounter swim and proclaimed it something she’s wanted to do her whole life!

She wasn’t quite 11. Good to know that we can help fulfill the dreams of people young and old.

Another guest said to the trainer, “I can cross that off of my bucket list!” (A bucket list is shorthand for “things you want to do before you kick the bucket”.) That woman has something in common with a large number of people. A few years ago, people in Great Britain said that swimming with dolphins was the number one thing they wanted to do before they die!

Still another visitor cried throughout her entire experience. Concerned, the trainer asked if she was okay. She replied, through her tears, “I’m just so happy I got to do this!”

Have you always dreamed of an up close introduction to an amazing dolphin? Visit our website to find out how you can make this dream come true!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Be Good to Our Dolphin Friends!

AJ reminds everyone that if you want to have a great time interacting with dolphins, visit Dolphin Research Center. Don't jump in the water with wild dolphins!

Summertime means that many of you who live or take vacations in coastal areas spend a lot more time out on boats for fishing, diving, snorkeling, or other recreational activities. It’s always a thrill when you’re out on the ocean and a pod of dolphins swims near your boat.

It’s also often a temptation. You want to get closer for pictures. Maybe you think you could feed them from your bait bucket to coax them closer. In some cases, you might think, “What’s the harm of swimming with them?”

Plenty. Swimming with wild dolphins in the United States is not only illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), but also risky with the potential of harm to both you and the dolphins!

Dolphins are powerful, animals. Playful? Sure! However, when they play with each other, they often play very rough with lots of rolling, tail-swatting, and raking of their teeth. They’ll sometimes pin each other to the ocean floor and engage in other behaviors that won’t hurt another dolphins, but that could cause a human serious injury – or worse!

How can closer interaction harm the dolphins? There are many ways. Feeding wild dolphins not only lures them closer to boats where there is greater risk of injury from propollers, but it also teaches them to be beggars instead of efficient hunters. Then, when denied food, they can become aggressive. Plus, if a female dolphin learns to take food from humans, that’s what her baby learns, too, and then the calf misses out on necessary hunting skills.

When they lose their natural caution around humans, they can also be hurt by unscrupulous people who pour liquids or pop foods down their blowholes – blocking their breathing passages!

You also don’t know what natural behavior you could be interrupting such as foraging, resting, nursing, or mating.

By following a few simple practices, you can enjoy the thrilling experience of viewing dolphins in the open oceans, while keeping it safe for yourself and your dolphin friends.

1) Stay at least 50 yards away from dolphins. Put your engine in neutral, or turn it off and drift to minimize noise, and the risk of dolphins getting cut by your propeller.
2) Move away if dolphins exhibit signs of distress or disturbance.
3) Don’t swim, feed or touch wild dolphins!
4) Teach others to also respect these amazing animals.

Enjoy your summer!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Set Your TVs or TiVos for DRC on GMA this Monday!

UPDATE: GMA ran a segment called Keys to the Keys on Monday, July 21st. DRC was included in that segment. Here's a link to ABC News where you can view the video.

Click here.

This coming Monday, July 21st, Good Morning America meteorologist Sam Champion is scheduled to broadcast live from Key West. As part of the morning show, they want to show some of the other terrific locations, attractions, etc. throughout the Florida Keys.

In mid-afternoon on Friday, DRC received a call from a GMA producer, requesting footage of the facility and dolphins. Two DVDs went out via Priority Overnight, to arrive in New York on Saturday.

We don't know how much, if any, they will use, or when during the show it might air. Rest assured, we're setting our VCRs, TiVos and other recording equipment for the entire two-hour show.

Good Morning America airs on ABC from 7 am to 9 am, eastern time. Please check your local listings for the time in your area!

Keep your flippers crossed and your eyes peeled for beautiful DRC dolphins on GMA this Monday!

Monday, July 14, 2008

From the Hearts of Children

DRC’s Membership Department and Education Department have received wonderful letters from some of the dolphins’ youngest fans.

Kaleigh wrote to thank us for giving her information about endangered dolphins and then asked what she could do to help dolphins herself.

Lilian asked for some pictures of dolphins. She wants to make posters for her neighborhood field because people litter. Lilian then wondered, “. . . if people can carry things full like water bottles (sic) why can’t people carry them empty?”

That’s a great question, Lilian!

Mallory shows that you’re never too young to fall in love with dolphins and try to help. When she was 16 months old, she and her family visited DRC and Mallory loved seeing the dolphins up close. She has a charity piggy bank in which she saved over $13 herself before her second birthday! Her family then threw her a dolphin-themed birthday party and asked for donations in lieu of gifts. Mallory collected over $50 to send to the dolphins.

She and her family hope to visit DRC again when Mallory is 3 and can participate in some of the activities we offer. We hope they come again, too, so we can thank her in person.

Finally, a young student named Olivia came to DRC with classmates and teachers from The Calhoun School in New York City for a week-long DolphinLab program. She was inspired to write this poem about some of the dolphins in the DRC family.

I am Pandora and my belly is pink. My handler points downward and I start to sink.
My name is Pax and I like to fly. Jumping and diving and reaching the sky.
I am Rainbow and sleek, but I am gentle when I kiss your cheek.
My name is Sandy and I am long. Come here and listen to my sweet dolphin song.
I am Santini and I lay in the sun, but I see a blue bucket which signals the fun!
My name is Talon but I am no bird, and I am obedient, just say the word.
I am Tanner, but I cannot tan. I think the whole world is my #1 fan.
My name is Tursi, just watch me dive. Up in the air, I feel so alive!
My name is Aleta and I am so sweet. All of my friends are the ones I will keep.
I am Kibby and I am cool. I swim and I play and I chase fish by the schools.

We love the fact that the dolphins in the DRC family inspire people of all ages to care more about marine mammals and the environment. How great to see so many put that caring into action!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Learning to Train with Dolphins -- and Dogs!

DolphinLab students working with Tanner and AJ during Advanced Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment

A DolphinLab student trains a new behavior to a staff member's dog.

So many people tell us they dream of training dolphins. Not everybody gets to realize that dream but at Dolphin Research Center you can experience a lot of what is involved in working with these amazing animals.

We offer a few different DolphinLab classes that delve deeper into the training, care and enrichment of dolphins. Teen Advanced DolphinLab: Training I, for ages 15-17, and two courses for adults -- Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training and Advanced Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment courses – provide hands-on experience and academically intensive programs.

Students work side-by-side with Animal Care and Training and Education staff in multiple daily sessions where they learn to work directly with the dolphins. They also participate in various other activities – including learning how to present the dolphins to the public in a narrated behavior session.

In two of the classes, the students receive additional training experience from some canine instructors. In Teen Training I and Advanced Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment, each student works individually with a staff member’s dog. In three sessions a day, the students apply their newly-learned training principles and practices and train their dog partner a new behavior!

No other programs in the world provide this level of hands-on, in-depth training experience with dolphins and dogs, all supervised by our experienced trainers and educators. Students can also receive college credit for the two adult courses.

For more information including course dates, costs, and prerequisites, please click here to visit the DolphinLab area of our website!

Monday, July 7, 2008

How We Decide Which Dolphins Do Research

Talon and Rainbow are only two of the many dolphins who have participated in research projects.

When observing one of our research sessions, guests often ask how we decide which dolphins take part in a particular study. It isn’t a question of purposely trying to pick the “smartest” dolphins in the family. After all, we think they’re all pretty smart!

Instead, we consider the entire pod and ask ourselves questions like, Who has time to participate? and What else are they doing? Some studies take years to complete. In that case, we also have to look at long term plans. For example, if a female dolphin is pregnant, or might become pregnant, she’s going to be too busy raising her calf for the next few years to concentrate on a research project.

One very important question we always ask about individual dolphins is, Does he or she enjoy doing research? Remember, each dolphin has his or her own, unique “dolphinality”, so it stands to reason they might have likes and dislikes. Some dolphins totally love doing research. They get excited when we arrive at their lagoon with the apparatus and are eager to “play the game” when we ask the question. They don’t get discouraged easily and are willing to try again, even after they answer incorrectly. They don’t mind the repetition.

Other dolphins . . . not so much. There are other activities that they enjoy more. We respect those preferences.

It all comes down to the particular study and eachdolphin. Thankfully, we have many that enjoy participating in research. With their help, we learn more about their species and are then able to share that knowledge with you and the rest of the world!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Aqualift Chair Installed!

DRC recently installed a second “aqualift” chair. This special equipment is used to assist guests with special needs in and out of the water. The guest sits in the chair and is slowly, safely, lowered into the dolphins’ lagoon. This is a big help for guests who use wheelchairs, or who have any physical challenge that makes it difficult for them to negotiate up and down steps, sit on a floating dock or slide into the water.

We’ve had a similar chair in the front lagoon for many years. A second one installed at another lagoon provides more scheduling flexibility and helps us expand the assistance we offer to anyone with special needs that would like to interact in the water with the dolphins.

Dolphin Research Center is happy to assist guests with special needs at no additional charge to the cost of the program. Simply make sure that you tell us in advance when you call to make a reservation in Dolphin Encounter or Dolphin Dip.

A generous member donated the funds to purchase the new Aqualift chair. Many thanks for your support!

Click here to visit our website and learn more about our Special Needs programs!