Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dolphin Encounter

In Corpus Christi we went on a dolphin encounter. No, it wasn't swimming with the dolphins.
Which I still plan to do some day, like my cousin Cass.
 This was all in honor of her.

My guy is kissing Shadow in photo.

 Shadow was the oldest dolphin. I think he was age 16. Shadow had the most calm temperment, and was the first dolphin the trainers get to know and learn. He was darkest in color, and he weighed about 450 lbs.

I'm explaining the hand cue for talking,
to the lady, at the dolphin show.

We learned so much about the dolphins: hand cues, training signals, and adolescent male dolphins.
 Each of the three dolphins had their own personality, like kids. They love praise and cheering.

DJ was Shadow's half brother, and the youngest dolphin at age 12. He was the watcher and imitator. His spots were scars similar to acne. DJ was the second dolphin the trainers got to know.

Each dolphin had certain tricks they excelled at. 

They get treats as rewards after the whistle blows, and they perform each trick. The rewards they get are: fish, ice, touch, praise, or playing with their toys.

Kai was age 13, and the lightest dolphin in color. I called him the flirt, cause he was the most free spirited.

Did you know that it's illegal to swim with wild dolphins? Dolphins in captivity have to be bred or found sick. They tend to live longer than wild dolphins because they receive medical treatment.

When dolphins are asleep half of their brains are still awake and functioning, or they'd drown. They can also move their eyes independently of each other. One eye can be looking at you and one eye can be looking at something below.

I talked to the trainer about how she got the job. She said you need a bachelor's in science of some kind, more experience with domestic or other animals, and luck. She had been working with dolphins for 6 years.
There were about 7 total trainers at the aquarium.

They only do the dolphin encounter once a day because this is like work for the dolphins and they get tired. They make sure they get enough rest and play.

There were two groups of 4 people each. They can have up to 5 people. So one group goes with one trainer and dolphin. The other group goes with another trainer and dolphin. The third trainer plays with the dolphin, and the dolphins can rotate, and get breaks.

That's DJ on the left with spots,
and Kai on the right.
The encounter lasts an hour.
We got to feed them ice, (DJ's favorite), have them throw a ball, spiral in circles, kiss the dolphin, rub their bellies, and fins, get splashed, and strut their stuff.

I'm so glad we went, and did it.

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