This month’s Research Update highlights our book chapter Learning about Dolphins: An Era of Discovery in Managed Care, published in the Scientific Foundation of Zoos and Aquariums: Their Role in Conservation and Research. Zoos and aquariums have evolved from relatively rudimentary displays to reputable research and conservation organizations. Most modern zoological facilities conduct and facilitate basic and applied research, and many of these investigations cross disciplines, involve innovative technologies, and contribute to global conservation efforts. As the most abundant marine mammal species in managed care, bottlenose dolphins have been studied extensively, garnering groundbreaking discoveries that otherwise would have been impossible to ascertain in the wild. These include, but are not limited to, a compelling understanding of calf development, maternal care, social behavior, cognition, bioacoustics, sensory systems, diving physiology, toxicology, immunology, health, disease, and reproductive biology. In an era of global habitat degradation and increasing human pressure on ocean resources and ecosystems, research conducted at marine mammal facilities has become critical to our understanding of how these animals may respond to an ever-changing environment.
Alfonz – February is a month of love and Alfonz has been our very own Cupid this month! For the past few weeks, he has been very flirtatious with the other dolphins and has been showing off his best selection of creative behaviors to impress the ladies.
Although our focus is whales and dolphins, we will never say "no" to helping out with our other marine mammal friends in the Florida Keys: the Florida Manatee.
Photo Identification studies have been hard to achieve this past month due to high-wind conditions, but the team hopes to get out on the water in the next couple of days for the first Photo - ID survey of the new year!
Alfonz - Alfonz and his trainer Kayla have been working on his belly breach and have recently made some strong headway! He is starting to come out of the water and "breach" on his belly. This is a relatively complex behavior that may take a while to build, so stay tuned for updates! Al is loving it so far, though, and seems to be very excited when he succeeds with a new step in the behavior.