Saturday, June 29, 2013

World Camera Day

June 29th is Camera Day! DRC loves that we can provide photos of so many special moments each and every single day of the year. We love to see pictures our supporters send us and hope that you all enjoy the photos we post for you. Don't forget to snap as many memories as you can.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Kilo!

Happy Birthday to our main man Kilo the sea lion! This handsome guy turns 12 today. When Kilo isn't barking at his two girlfriends, he loves to play slip and slide and perfect his boogie skills. Happy Birthday Kilo. We love you!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sunglasses Day

Happy Sunglasses Day! Whether you wear your shades to protect your eyes, accessorize or to hide from the paparazzi make sure to rock them with as much style as Tanner today.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Study Reveals Dolphins’ Flexible Problem Solving While Imitating Blindfolded

While wearing eyecups, Tanner still successfully imitates DRC Co-Founder Mandy Rodriguez's "shark" behavior.

In 2010, Dolphin Research Center (DRC), a leader in dolphin cognition research, scientifically demonstrated that dolphins can imitate without using their eyesight.  A recently published follow-up study now not only reveals that these intelligent marine mammals achieve this task by using sound, but that they employ a deliberate, problem-solving approach to imitation.  In the original study, a dolphin wore soft, latex eyecups to block its vision and then imitated another dolphin.  To determine if sound was indeed used to accomplish imitation, for this new study the “blindfolded” dolphin was asked to imitate a human’s movements in the water.  The study, called Switching Strategies: A Dolphin’s Use of Passive and Active Acoustics to Imitate Motor Actions appears in the online edition of the journal Animal Cognition (February 2013).  A video produced by DRC about the study can also be viewed at DRC's YouTube channel by clicking here.

“We had to change the way that behaviors sound to a dolphin to see if that affected his ability to imitate,” explains Dr. Kelly Jaakkola, DRC’s Director of Research.  “Clearly when a person moves in the water, he sounds very different from another dolphin.”  Throughout testing the human modeled a variety of motor behaviors such as bobbing up and down, swimming while kicking feet together, spinning in a circle or even swimming like a fish with legs and feet moving side-to-side.  The dolphin, a young male named Tanner, successfully imitated the behaviors with a high rate of accuracy.

Confirming that the dolphin did indeed use sound was exciting in itself, but how he used sound was even more intriguing.  During testing, in addition to visual observation and video recording, the research team also used a hydrophone – an underwater microphone – to record what happened beneath the water’s surface.  “When imitating a dolphin, Tanner recognized the characteristic sound of the behavior, much like people might recognize the sound of hands clapping.  When imitating the less-familiar behavior of a human in the water, he switched strategies and used echolocation a whole lot more,” Dr. Jaakkola elaborates.  “Dolphin echolocation is not typically on.  It requires a decision on the part of the dolphin to activate it, which shows that Tanner wasn’t just mindlessly acting.  He was flexible enough to change his approach to gather the information he needed.  In other words, he actively problem-solved.”

Realizing this provides new insight into the dolphin mind, but the implications are even more far-reaching.  “Scientifically, studies like this are really important because so far, only humans and dolphins have shown this kind of flexible skill with imitation.  But humans and dolphins are separated by about 90 million years of evolution.  This means they must have evolved these skills separately.  So exploring imitation in dolphins and humans can teach us not only about each individual species, but also has the potential to fill in crucial information about why the ability to imitate ever evolved at all,” believes Dr. Jaakkola.

Dolphin Research Center’s research continues to add to the world’s knowledge database on dolphins.  In addition to this study and its predecessor, Blindfolded Imitation in a Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) which appeared in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology (Volume 23, No. 4), DRC’s research demonstrated for the first time that dolphins can understand numerical concepts and explored what dolphins understand about hidden objects.  Throughout the years, the center has been involved in numerous other observational, cognitive, and husbandry research projects and papers, both on its own and in cooperation with other well-known scientists and institutions.  These include studies on immunology, DNA fingerprinting, metacognition, language research, signature whistles, calf independence and others.

Happy Anniversary Molly Moo

On June 24th, 1996 a gorgeous lady came to their forever home. Since then, Molly has stolen the hearts of trainers and guests alike. She is now the oldest dolphin who lives at Dolphin Research Center. With a full force 'dolphinality', Molly proves that age is just a number. She's always ready for a good laugh, play time session, and a new accessory.
Happy Anniversary Molly. We love you!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Help The Dolphins From Home

Many of you have asked what you can do to help protect dolphins and conserve our oceans from home. Here are five ways to get involved from anywhere in the world to lend a hand, or flipper, to marine mammals:

Eat eco-friendly fish: If you eat seafood, eat fish that is harvested in a sustainable way, which means eating species that that have a healthy population, and whose harvest minimizes bycatch... and impacts on the environment.

Lessen your carbon footprint: Reduce global warming by taking simple steps that will likely save money in the long run - drive less, walk more, use less electricity and water. Don't forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Participate in a Cleanup: Help clean up a local beach, park or roadway and pick up that litter before it gets into the marine environment. Even trash hundreds of miles from the ocean can eventually float or blow into the ocean.

Never release balloons: They are a danger to wildlife, who can swallow them accidentally, mistake them for food, or get tangled up in their strings. After your party, pop the balloons and throw them in the trash instead of releasing them.

Stay involved and informed: Most people do not understand all of the issues. A great resource is the website for NOAA Fisheries at Click on “Protecting Marine Species” and then click on “Marine Mammal Conservation”.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Aleta Gull

There are some dolphins that have perfected combo-behaviors and Aleta is one of them. Whether she is flying through the air rostrum to rostrum with one of her sisters or imitating a gator mid speed run, Aleta never ceases to amaze us.

Aleta loves to show off one behavior in particular, a flying seagull. To do this, Aleta dives, wiggles her flippers, and also emits a high pitch vocal much like the birds who flock the facility. She’s so good at it that she often does it on her own, whether or not she’s asked.

However, Aleta is always one to excel. She constantly keeps us on our toes and her lagoon mates on their tail flukes as she shows off what she can do. The most recent addition being a variation of her seagull impression. While Aleta still wiggled her flippers and made a high pitched squawk, she did something that we’re not even sure birds can do themselves. Aleta stunned the crowd as she flew through the front lagoon upside down. That’s right: Aleta pulled off an upside down, flying seagull, impression.

As she wiggled her flippers, chirped, and flew in front of a crowd all you could hear were cheers and applauses. It was truly a sight to see. Is there anything Aleta can’t do!? We think not.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Item of the Week!

Check out this beautiful Kelli's Dolphin Necklace With Velvet Box. Perfect for the little princess in your life!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

From our family to yours, we'd like to extend a Happy Fathers Day to all of the wonderful dads, grandfathers, and male role models out there.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Item of the week: Tail Flukes

When you walk around DRC you probably notice many staff members and volunteers wearing a unique piece of jewelry. These "fluke-prints" are a replica of a dolphins tails. Custom made by Florida Keys artist Terry Drouin of Custom Tails Jewelry, this distinct piece of art is a real conversation starter. 

Get your own here:

*Also available in small silver, small gold, and large gold.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Talon!

Today is Talon's 23rd Birthday!
This awesome "big boy" is a Flipper grandchild and he knows it. He soars to new heights with every behavior and loves to play cognitive games.
Happy Birthday Talon. We love you!