Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Talon, and the rest of the DRC pod, wish you a Happy Labor Day! What are you up to today

People Watchers

Rainbow wears his zinc toupee on sunny days to keep him from a sunburn while he people watches.
Throughout the year at DRC, there are days when the facility is abuzz with activity and other times when we’re less busy and it feels like our own little slice of paradise. In both instances, there are opportunities to see unique aspects of DRC. Sometimes the dolphins are so pumped up by the crowd that they leap to new heights and scream at higher than normal frequencies. When there are fewer guests, their relaxed dolphinalities emerge and you get to see them enjoy the beautiful sunshine as they people watch and explore.

Regardless of what’s going on around them, we always welcome visitors to interact with the dolphins. While some do so through both on the dock and in water programs, a great way to create memories with the dolphins is to stand on the causeway and engage them. Talk to them, call their names, whistle, wave hello. They absolutely love the attention.

There are certain dolphins, like Cayo, Gypsi, and Louie, who love to observe the people who visit the facility every day. They lie out in front of the boardwalks to see what’s going on. Other dolphins, like Rainbow, have a signature spot where they hang out when they aren’t doing a session. Rainbow’s beach area is so much a part of him; he gets zinc oxide on the top of his melon to keep him from getting sunburned while he checks out his surroundings. Every day, guests ask if Rainbow is okay because he stays in that spot for hours. Once they see him in a session though, they’re mesmerized by his energy and athleticism, and then laugh as he makes his way back to his little island after he’s done playing.

Even though the dolphins have a lot of fun sessions and environmental enrichment in their lagoons, it’s great to know that they enjoy people watching. It gives you a lot to think about. Do they notice what kinds of clothes people wear? Are there certain types of people they are naturally more drawn to, such as children?  Regardless of what’s going on inside their heads, you can’t not enjoy dolphin attention.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Item of the Week

This weeks featured item is a 5" Glow in the Dark Glass Dolphin. Available in pink or blue, this beautiful item will be a beautiful accent to your home. Check out this item and many others in DRC's online gift shop.

Glow in the Dark Dolphin

Thursday, July 25, 2013

On the Dock with Delta

Delta showed off his "present" of the day.
Staff members aren’t always on the dock for formal sessions, however sometimes we like to engage the dolphins in spontaneous play time. During these sessions, we come down onto the dock without coolers or treats and ask the dolphins if they want to play. Like every program at Dolphin Research Center, what happens depends on the dolphins. Sometimes we get a lot of love and other times our gray family members are more interested in something else in their lagoon.

However, if there is a dolphin who is going to come over to play it’s Delta. He loves to say hello, go under the dock, and grab a piece of sea grass to start a few rounds of seaweed toss. Delta hands over the grass and then swims out further into the lagoon to indicate he wants to play. It’s one of his favorite games.

The best part is the look on his beautiful face when he pops out of the water. He looks at you straight on with a giant smile. If you ask him if he wants you to play he squeals and does a tiny head nod, “Yes!”

Sometimes Delta grabs the seaweed and brings it back over to you and other times he’ll throw it at you, tossing a large amount of water with it. Even if you get soaked, you can’t help but smile and laugh. After all, how many people can say they started their day with a salt water shower from a dolphin? It’s worth bragging about.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rut Season

Kilo struts his stuff for the girls.
Throughout the summer, it’s obvious that our male sea lion, Kilo, does not share the habitat at the same time as the females, Karen and Lina. This is because May through August is sea lion rut season also known as mating season. During these months, Kilo becomes very loud and even gains a great deal of weight as he shows off for his two ladies.

Although Kilo, Karen, and Lina live in human care they still are on a typical sea lion biological clock. Kilo instinctually creates a territorial area where he displays ritualized behavior, such as vocalizations, head-shaking, stares and bluff lunges in an attempt to lure the females. When you visit during rut season Kilo makes it very clear through his loud barks and enthusiastic nature that he’s of mating age.

Karen and Lina’s situation is a bit unique because of their ages. Karen, who is 26, is considered a senior citizen and is also blind. Due to both of these factors, she is not a suitable candidate for Kilo. Lina on the other hand, is too young and petite for Kilo. Estimated to be about three years old, it is possible that Lina and Kilo could one day have a pup but not for a few more years.

Female California sea lions have a 12-month reproduction cycle. However, they have the unique ability to delay implantation for up to three months. Typically, they give birth in the month of May or June. Like dolphins, male sea lions do not partake in raising the baby.

We hope to one day have a baby sea lion at DRC, but the health and safety of Kilo, Karen, and Lina is the number one priority. As Lina ages or in the event that we receive a new member to our sea lion family we will then decide whether the time is right for a little bundle of adorable joy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Item of the Week

Here's a tee youngsters will love to wear all summer. While indoors the shirt appears as a black & white print of the reef and ocean friends, but the sunshine brings the shirt colorfully alive! Total magic and what kid doesn't love magic? Check out this item and many others in our online gift shop!

Magic Tee

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Jax is Part of the Team!

Jax proudly struts with a glove from ES.
It takes a village to run Dolphin Research Center. We have so many people behind the scenes that help care for our animals and ensure that everyone, from dolphin to human, really enjoys their experience. A great example of these people is our Environmental Services (ES) Department. You’ll often see them around the facility, cleaning docks or securing fencing. You rarely see them interact with the dolphins, unless it’s a medical assist. However, the dolphins know just how important these guys’ roles at DRC are.

Recently, several members from ES did maintenance in the lagoon where A.J., Jax, Tanner, Rainbow, and Sandy reside. The dolphins went along their business as if the guys weren’t even in the water. Occasionally, they swam by to check on their human friends but never got in the middle of the job.

Since the dolphins live in a natural lagoon setting, it’s common for the tides to come in and flood back out. One of the members of ES noticed his glove had disappeared. It turns out that the glove floated all the way to the other side of the habitat, by the fence. He couldn’t just swim out to get it, so Jax came to the rescue!

A trainer threw ice cubes out and pointed at the glove in the water. As Jax happily swam over, he had a little trouble grabbing the item with his rostrum. He tried to balance it, hold it in his mouth, and carry it on his back. Slowly, he pushed it back to the dock as the ES team cheered him on. He was so excited he gave them a high five before they continued on with their work. Way to go Jax!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dolphin Wish List!

The dolphins love to playbut they're in need of new toys from their wonderful Dolphin Parents and DolFriends. Can you help?
Click the link below to go to our websites Dolphin Wish List! All of these items have been approved as dolphin safe.
Please send your gift to:

Membership Department
Dolphin Research Center
58901 Overseas Highway
Grassy Key, FL 33050
**If you wish to bring your own item to DRC or purchase it in a store, you are more than welcome to. However, the trainers must ensure that the toys are dolphin safe before they can be played with.**

On behalf of all of the members of the DRC pod, thank you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Item of the Week

Engage your child's mind to reveal the happy image of this 100 piece dolphin puzzle. For ages 5 and up. Check it out in our giftshop!

Pieces of Nature

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Louie Laughter

Louie just loves to make people giggle!
You know the saying, “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery”? Well, it’s especially true when it’s an imitation from a dolphin! Louie, one of our two rescue dolphins, has shown that he is phenomenal when it comes to cognitive games. Whether he copies his human friends or matches two items, he loves to use his brain and has found the prime location to do so.

One of his favorite places to hang out is by the bridge next to the back lagoons. From that spot, he’s figured out that he can chat with the bigger boy dolphins and people watch at the same time. Louie is such an attention grabber that he often entices adoring fans to stop by and have conversations with him, which often leads to laughter.

The staff loves to show the guests how to interact with the dolphin from the causeway. On this particular day, a small crowd formed as one of our educators, Ashley, had a giggle fest with Louie. The two of them went back and forth “hahaha”-ing. First Ashley would laugh, and then Louie would copy. Afterwards, Ashley would make another noise, like a raspberry or kiss, and Louie would imitate that too. When he did, she’d start to laugh again and Louie followed suit.

As the two exchanged imitations, it piqued the interest of some of the other dolphins in the same lagoon. Some waved hello or spun in circles, however Louie kept up the laughter. It was fun to see his reaction to anyone who giggled. Next time you see Louie, start to laugh and see what happens. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Item of the Week

This weeks featured item is the Baba Dioum tee. There is a DRC logo on the front with conservation message of environmentalist Baba Dioum on the back.

In the end we will Conserve only what we Love, we will Love Only what we Understand, and We will Understand only what we are Taught.

Baba Dioum tee

Friday, July 5, 2013

World Kiss Day!

July 6th is World Kiss Day! Give your human, furry, or flippered friend a dolphin size smooch today.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Toys

All of the dolphin, from youngsters like Delta and Gypsi to older guys, like Pax, love the enrichment hula hoop.

Whenever a new object is introduced to the dolphins, there is a designated tester in the lagoon who tries it out first. Up in the front, the kids get together and decide who it is, and then sends them over to see if the new item is scary.

Even as one of the younger dolphins, Delta showed that he was a fearless little guy when it came to a new toy the trainers made that resembled a hula hoop with wings. In the past, the dolphins have been a little distant towards new objects with pieces that flail out, like the floating Kong toy with its long tails of material. However, this toy seemed to be a source of entertainment.

While the rest of the dolphins watched from afar, Delta grabbed at the tassels on the hula hoop to pull them off. However, not one to be outdone, Gypsi realized that the new toy was circular and she could swim through it! This led to a tiny tug of war between the two.

Before we knew it, the two of them tried to go through the hula hoop together. They’re both smaller dolphins, but when they attempted to go inat the same time, it just didn’t work. As their trainer watched to see who would make it out first, Gypsi showed her dominance as the older dolphin and wiggled to the other side. Delta followed right after, while the rest of the kids in the lagoon kept their distance.

After Delta and Gypsi went through the hoop a few times, the trainer took it out of the water. You always want to keep the dolphins wanting more, so it was essential that their experience with the new toy end on a positive note. Maybe next time the rest of the kids will want to play too!