Taking Care of the Dolphin Family
What's the secret to an amazing, memorable swimming-with-the-dolphins encounter? Happy and healthy dolphins, of course! Like humans and other mammals, dolphins can become ill or stressed. They also should have regular checkups to make sure they’re doing well. Fortunately, dolphins that live in captivity have the benefit of modern medicine to cure what ails them and to prevent future problems. And at our Swim with Dolphins Bahamas facilities, we take this hard work seriously to experience the rewards.
Training the Dolphins to be Good Patients
A Word on Dolphin Anatomy
Because trainers draw blood needed for testing from the fleshy underside of the flukes, dolphins are trained early on to present their flukes upon command. Trainers also must teach dolphins techniques to facilitate ultrasound screening in the event that it becomes necessary.
Training Techniques Incorporate Patience and Positivity
Essentially, trainers have a list of specific commands that correspond to specific actions that they want the dolphins to take. First, trainers demonstrate a command and the action they want the dolphin to take upon hearing that command. They repeat this demonstration multiple times until the dolphin “gets it.” Then they practice by giving the command to the dolphin over and over again. Each time the dolphin responds correctly, its trainer rewards it by giving it a toy, a treat, or an abundance of attention. (Dolphins are social creatures, and they love nothing more than undivided attention from their trainers!) When the dolphin fails to respond correctly to a command (as happens often in the beginning, while they’re still learning), the trainer simply does nothing, waits a few seconds, then tries again.
Eventually, dolphins learn the meaning of these commands, which are so important to keeping them healthy. The bond between dolphin and trainer is truly amazing. If you ever have an opportunity to swim with dolphins in the Bahamas, you’ll be able to see it firsthand.