January 2021- From the Pod...

Posted by DPMMR Staff on Jan 15, 2021 12:00:00 AM

 

Al GirthAlfonz - While most of the world is starting off the new year with weight-loss goals, Alfonz has maintained his hefty and healthy 58" girth. We ask the dolphins to swim through a measuring tape and then measure their girth about 2" in front of the dorsal fin. This method allows us to estimate their weight and track weight-loss or gain which is important to making sure all of the dolphins are maintaining a healthy weight. Historically, Alfonz has been a little apprehensive of this behavior at times (It's okay Alfonz... we're all apprehensive of weight gain from time to time), but through our Positive Reinforcement training methods, he is now doing this behavior consistently and even enjoys it. Keep it up, big guy! 

In other Alfonz news, Alfonz has been working with his lagoon partner Bob to sharpen up their deep water interaction behaviors. The training team is utilizing our slower season to "practice" these behaviors as well as maintain other important behaviors such as waiting his turn. 

Over the past month, Alfonz has met many guests which he enjoys charming with his larger than life personality- especially the ladies. Some things never change! 

 

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Baby-bit- BB has had a busy few weeks interacting with all of the guests that made us a part of their holiday travels. For most guests, BB is the first dolphin they see as she usually comes over to the briefing hut as soon as guests come down the stairs at our facility to check everyone out.

Last month we mentioned that BB was learning "fish toss" as a new behavior. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to work on this behavior too much this past month because we have been focusing on getting BB to stop shaking her pectoral flippers when doing an aerial behavior (It kind of looks like she is flying when she jumps and shakes her flippers at the same time). As trainers, we call this a "superstitious behavior" because it isn't a part of the behavior. Now that she is back to doing her aerial behaviors without the added "flair," we can begin training her Fish Toss behavior again.

This past month, BB has spent some of her off-time interacting with a "Tug-o-feeder."  The goal of this enrichment is to work with another dolphin to pull on both sides to open the device which is filled with her favorite treats! The moment we put the device into the lagoon, BB goes to work trying to get it open. Although it would be easier to open with the help of another dolphin, she prefers to open it by herself so that she doesn't have to share the treats inside. 

 

Bob - Bob has continued working hard on his new behavior, Moving High Five, with his trainer Brooke. This month, he reached a new milestone of offering the behavior at the submerged platform, with guests!

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Bob can occasionally be a little nervous at the submerged lift, which can make learning new behaviors there a little more challenging. Since learning new behaviors is one of Bob’s favorite past times, it has helped build his confidence at the submerged lift. This behavior should be completely finished soon and then he will move on to learning another new behavior.

Like his friend, Alfonz, Bob has been working on sharpening up his deep water behaviors and taking turns with Alfonz when meeting guests. He has made great progress with this in the past couple of weeks and has earned an A+ from his trainers with these exercises. 

 

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 11.22.44 AMDinghy - The new year has started with an annual check-up for our eldest dolphin, Dinghy. Dinghy offered a full blood sample recently as well as a gastric sample and will have a voluntary gastric scope in the near future. We're happy to report her blood came back normal which is a great indicator of Dinghy's health. 

In between all of her husbandry, Dinghy has been interacting with guests and has had one of her best seasons yet over the holidays. While the belly-ride remains her favorite guest interaction behavior, she has been offering belly-rubs consistently and this might be a close second. 

Finally, Dinghy's prescription for eye drops has changed frequently over the past month to best care for her, and we are all looking forward to a new shade structure soon that will offer stronger protection from the sun for Dinghy and all of the animals! 

 

Jessica - Jessica remains a helicopter mom and her trainers have spent a lot of time this month working on her allowing Jett to do more behaviors, specifically, behaviors with the vet. Dani was able to accomplish Jett's entire physical which consists of Jett offering different views of his body to the vet for a check-up. Typically, Jessica has been reluctant to allow Jett to offer these "layouts," but with extra work and positive reinforcement, she has made huge progress! unnamed (1)

Additionally, Jessica has made great strides with being comfortable with the docks. After many months of training, Jessica gave her first voluntary blood sample from the new platforms this month! 

Jessica has been working with Cristina to learn an "up/down" behavior where Jessica bobs up and down in the water, copying the guests she is interacting with. She reached new heights this month with the behavior when she did it for the first time with guests without any help from her trainer. This is the first new behavior Jessica has learned with guests in a while! 

 

Jett - Like most 4 year olds, Jett has been a little rambunctious this month! Jett has spent most of his sessions working with BB and learning from her. He is very good at observational learning and has learned to copy her "Crowd Splash" behavior. Each time he hears the whistle telling him good job for this behavior, he emits a range of vocalizations which his trainers find adorable. He has also gained some serious height on his jumps since working so much with B.B. 

Like most of our dolphins, 2021 started off with a blood sample from Jett. Jett nailed this behavior with ease and is easily the most solid dolphin when it comes to this behavior. 

Jett has recently moved up the "dolphin social ladder" and is quite dominant over his brother Tug, and like most brothers... doesn't always like to share with his sibling. His trainers are going to focus their attention in the coming month on reinforcing and encouraging Jett to work with and share his trainer with his brother. Boys will be boys... and dolphins will be dolphins! 

 

Tug - Tug had quite the accomplish this month as he learned a "Back Dive" behavior. Tug worked with Kayla to learn how to exit the water, rotate backwards, and re-enter the water head first. He even had some help from his bigger sister from time-to-time to perfect his technique. He learned this behavior in record time and can now do it all on his own... most of the time...

Occasionally, he won't quite make a head-first re-entry and will land on his back. Even if he doesn't make the full rotation on his first try, he can typically succeed on the second try. Regardless of how he lands, he ALWAYS looks cute doing it! 

 

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In the video, you can hear just how excited everyone gets for the first time he did it! Tug is the dolphin on the right, and his sister BB is on the left. 

This month, we increased Tug's daily diet by a pound and he is still nursing from Mom. All of the trainers and vets agree, Tug is going to be a big dolphin when he grows up! (He might even rival his dad for the "Biggest Dolphin" title at DPMMR)

Topics: Insider, Dolphins in Key Largo, Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, Just For Fun

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