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.