The turn of each new year brings positive vibes, exciting resolutions and goals, new beginnings, and this year... hope.
At DPMMR, we're no different, and we've been jumping out of our skin for the clock to strike midnight and 2021 to begin. You could say that our team is stoked for what's to come this year, so here's our list of the top 21 things we're looking forward to in 2021! (In no particular order).
1. Shade for the Dolphins - Creating a shade structure for the dolphin lagoon is a big step in increasing the welfare of the animals in our care and our team has been working for over two years to overcome a lengthy list of challenges of installing a shade structure. We're excited to say that this year is the year we add significant shade to our habitats.
2. Project BRT - Over the past few months, the team has been working on a secret project which will be announced in 2021. The project is different from anything we've ever done before and is a nod to the future of DPMMR. This might be at the top of our list of things we're looking forward to this year.
3. Seeing Tug Progress with his Slide Out Behavior - Tug is one of our younger dolphins but has made huge strides in 2020 with his slide out behavior. This behavior is one of the most important behaviors the animals learn for their own healthcare and although he is relatively new to the behavior, Tug excels which is why we're looking forward to seeing this behavior completed this year.
4. Introducing "The Responder Experience" - This new guest experience will allow participants to experience what it is like to be a marine mammal responder. We're looking forward to seeing many future responders take part in this new program this year.
5. The Vaccine - So this one isn't specifically DPMMR related, but we are excited for a vaccine to help fight COVID-19. As you already know, the pandemic had a huge impact on the tourism industry which in turn had a negative impact on the number of guests able to meet a dolphin this year. We're looking forward to a year with less COVID-19 and more dolphin hugs for our guests.
6. Updating Our Dolphin Conservation Demonstration - Our Dolphin Conservation Demonstration was a fantastic tool for teaching groups of people tangible ways they can help marine mammals and inspiring them to care. In 2021, we're going to focus attention towards updating this conservation demo in preparation for a re-launch of the demonstration.
7. Enrichment in Action - 2021 might just be the year of new programs! Starting soon, we will be offering guests the opportunity to play with the dolphins with our "Enrichment in Action" program. Why are we looking forward to this program? Because one of the best parts of our job is playing with dolphins and we're going to get to share that fun with our supporters!
8. Dolphin Awareness Month - Mark Your Calendars for Dolphin Awareness Month (It's March 2021). We're celebrating on our Facebook & Instagram each day of the month and really looking forward to teaching our followers about all different types of dolphins... not just the kind we care for. (Have you heard of a Risso's dolphin?)
9. Dolphin Dash Virtual 5K - The DPMMR team isn't made up of runners... so it might be shocking to see a 5K on the list of things we're most looking forward to. But our First Annual Dolphin Dash Virtual 5K made its way onto the list because of how important the fundraiser is to our wild dolphin research project.
Did you know that our research team performs photo identification surveys in our local waters at-least twice a month? To do so, they troll from North Key Largo to Islamorada and back... which wracks up the fuel bill. The data our scientists are working on is an important piece of a larger puzzle that will ultimately protect the marine life of the Florida Keys. So get your running (or walking) shoes on... it's time to raise some money in the name of conservation. (Stay tuned to our Facebook for announcements & updates)
10. Purchasing A Dolphin Scale - Most people start the new year by stepping on a scale. Part of caring for dolphins involves asking the dolphins to weigh themselves! Unfortunately, our scale was destroyed in 2017 in Hurricane Irma, so we've been relying on body measurements, math, & science to get estimated weights for the past three years. One of our goals this year is to purchase a scale big enough to start weighing our dolphins again.
11. Meeting Thousands of New People - Each year, we meet people from around the world who visit our headquarters to meet a dolphin. It's such a joy getting to know our guests and seeing them make a genuine connection with our dolphin family. (To be fair, we look forward to this every year, but after 2020... we're really looking forward to it this year).
12. Facility Face-Lift- With all of the many projects going on in 2021, it's time for the facility to receive a face lift. We're finally able to replace our perimeter fence (thanks to our donors who came to our aid after Tropical Storm Eta), we will be adding new signage to improve our conservation messaging, and we'll also be remodeling our guest amenities to improve guest experience. We can't wait to see all of the progress this year at our headquarters.
13. Building on Partnerships - Covering 10,000 square miles of marine habitat takes a village, and DPMMR depends on many partners throughout the community to respond to whales & dolphins that need our help. We have plans in place to strengthen existing partnerships and even create new ones in 2021 to enhance response efforts when marine mammal emergencies arise.
14. Collegiate & Professional Courses - With Education being one of the four pillars of our mission, of course we're looking forward to hosting both collegiate and professional courses at our headquarters this year. With these course offerings, we can offer hands-on training for undergraduate and graduate students as well as everyday citizens with an interest in marine conservation. 2021 is shaping up to be our busiest year yet in terms of these courses.
15. Facebook Lives - One of our marketing team's New Years Resolutions is to do more Facebook Live broadcasts, so hopefully you're like us and are looking forward to more broadcasts in 2021.
16. Research Publications - Our research team is currently working on many research projects covering biology, cognition, veterinary medicine, acoustics, and behavior, all of which aid conservation efforts. Word on the street is that some of these projects are on their way to being published in 2021, so we're looking forward to seeing the results of the studies going on at DPMMR.
17. Trip Advisor Reviews - We always love hearing directly from our guests about their experience and its common practice to review recent guest reviews in our morning meetings. It's always a great reward to hear that our guests enjoyed their time or learned something new, and we're looking forward to this feedback in 2021.
18. Challenges -This might be an odd one to see on our list of things we're looking forward to, but if 2020 taught us one thing, it's that challenges force growth. We would be naive to think that 2021 was going to be a smooth sailing. We know that the challenges we face, however, will spur organizational growth which ultimately benefits the animals in our care and in the wild.
19. Swimming with Dolphins - Another "resolution" for our team is to spend more time in the water building our relationship with the dolphins in our care. Not only is it good for our trainers, it's great enrichment for the animals. So here's to more salty hair and dolphin time in 2021!
20. Rescue & Response - Our entire reason for existing is to respond to and rescue whales & dolphins. You could say it's what makes us "tick." While our fingers are crossed it is such a good year for wild dolphins that none of them need our help in the first place, we're looking forward to being the second chance at life for any whale or dolphin in need.
21. Getting to Know You - DPMMR could not exist without supporters like you! From booking education programs, to leaving donations, to sharing social media posts, or telling your friend about us... our supporters are so important. That's why in 2021 we're looking forward to getting to know you more and are making a concerted effort to connect with you more this year.
Happy New Year! May 2021 be your best year yet!
What are you most looking forward to in 2021? It could be something on this list, or something we didn't think of. Leave us a note below.