Dolphin Day!!

Halle here–I had the opportunity to do the Researcher Experience at Dolphin Research Center, and it was so fun! There could be four people there at one time, but it was just me which was especially awesome as they could really make it special for me and made me feel like one of their team. The guide Catherine was amazing at making me feel included and have the best day. Started out playing with Luna and Pandora, where we played match the object, where the trainer would hold an object and Luna picked the one that matched. When she got it right she was rewarded with fish and high fives. They showed me the training process by only positive reinforcement, and I got to signal Pandora to do a spinning flip. It was so awesome! They explained to me some other projects they were doing, then let me help out with one they are conducting on dolphin respiration rates and how it changes as they get older. We watched Rainbow and Sandy. Rainbow is an old dolphin, so he just laid on the rocks and made it easy for us to count his breaths. Then we went up to the observation tower to watch Summer and record her data. She is much more active and it was interesting to see all the teamwork that went in to watching her and getting the most accurate readings. Then it was on to Reese, Gambit, and Delta. They were the boys, and were so fun and hyper. Catherine showed me fun games with Reese, and it was my favorite part of the day. She would hold an object like a ring and have me throw another one, and Reese would wait for the signal then swim and grab the ring and bring it back to me. He was so sweet and would whistle and squeal in excitement every time he did it right and got a fish. His favorite action is speed, so Catherine showed me how to do it and then he would just screech happily and take off across the lagoon. After Reese, it was time for my Dolphin Encounter! Was with Calusa and Windley and it was so fun! Got to be in the water and do handshake, kisses, high fives, and splash. Then we did the dorsal tow, and it was amazing to be in the water with Calusa and feel just how powerful and graceful these animals are. Watched them jump and spin and just like that the day was over. It was such a fun experience and I’m so so glad I did it! 

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