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Career Series: Cognitive & Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab

Please note: We made some exciting changes to our 2021 Adult DolphinLab courses! Please be certain to review the information and details on each respective course page in its entirety, regardless of previous participation.

Course Information

Cognitive & Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab is part of our Career Series DolphinLab programs. The course is a six-day program that provides an in-depth, hands-on immersion into the field of marine mammal science, and surveys a wide-range of knowledge, theories, and ongoing research concerning dolphins.

By working with staff on DRC research studies, students gain a greater understanding of the cognitive abilities and social behavior of these amazing animals, as well as deeper insight into research concepts and methodology. As they are introduced to DRC and its resident dolphin population, students continue to learn to respect each dolphin as an individual through observation of their unique behavioral and physical characteristics.

The course includes a unique blend of seminars, observation time, and hands-on activities and proves that learning about research is not only fascinating, but also fun! Class sizes average six to twelve students to ensure individualized instruction. Cognitive and Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab is an academically rigorous class and is designed for those truly interested in learning the ins and outs of research with marine mammals. The course also includes a group project in which students work together in a small group to design a cognitive study, and present the design and methodologies to DRC’s research team. 

The program begins at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, and ends at 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Additional information and required waivers and forms are provided in the Welcome Packet emailed to each participant once enrolled and the course is confirmed to run.

Seminars Include:

  • Cognition

  • DRC’s Current Research

  • Research Design

Hands-On Activities & Interactive Programs Include:

  • Assist research staff in conducting research sessions

  • Learn to conduct independent observation sessions

  • Participate in additional research activities

  • One Dolphin Encounter session

  • One Play with a Dolphin session

  • A Dock Side Signal Session

Additional Activities Include:

Daily informal discussions with research staff and informal observation time with the dolphins.


Tuition for Cognitive & Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab is $1,800.00 (US). Tuition includes all seminars, activities, interactive programs, digital photographs taken from various dolphin interactions throughout the week, and lunch and snacks each day of the program. 

Tuition does not include:

  • Accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner each day
  • Transportation to and from any airport, or to and from Dolphin Research Center each day.

In an effort to assist our DolphinLab students with accommodations, the Courtyard Marriott in Marathon, and Grassy Flats Resort and Beach Club are partnering with Dolphin Research Center to offer our students a discounted rate on various rooms. Details, room rates, and booking instructions are provided in the Welcome Packet sent to each student once the Lab is confirmed.


Students must successfully complete Adult Basic DolphinLab before attending Cognitive and Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLabApplicants are expected to have a strong interest in marine mammal science and careers in the field, and be able to participate in an academically and physically rigorous schedule. The course is available to all students ages 18 and up. The student may enroll in more than one Lab within the same season; however, Dolphin Research Center reserves the right to determine whether the Career Series Labs are an appropriate fit for the student based on his/her performance in Adult Basic, or other Career Series courses previously completed.

Related Links


Course dates for the 2021 Adult DolphinLab season are posted on the Course Dates web page between November and January. Enrollment opens in January and the website will indicate when enrollment is open. Applications will not be accepted before such time. We hope to welcome you in 2021!

Our Mission - Through education, research and rescue, Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment we share with the well being of DRC's animals taking precedence.
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