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Career Series: Cognitive & Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab

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

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. Students reside overnight at the DolphinLab Dormitory, and all meals, and bed and bath linens are included in the tuition of Research DolphinLab. There is no discount if a student chooses to secure his/her own lodging elsewhere. 

Please note that we will not have staff available prior to 9:00 a.m., and the dormitory is not available earlier. Additional information and required waivers and forms are provided in the Welcome Packet emailed to each participant once enrolled.

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.

College Credit:

Students may elect to receive college credit for attending this course. Credit is available through The College of the Florida Keys for an additional fee. Students must enroll with The College of the Florida Keys, and pay all Lab fees, minus the $200 Dolphin Research Center application deposit, before the start of the program. In order to receive credit, students must successfully complete all course activities and pass an end-of-course exam. For more information, please read College Credit Details.


The cost of Cognitive & Behavioral Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab is $1,800.00 (US). Tuition includes all seminars, activities, meals, lodging, and digital photographs from various dolphin interactions throughout the week. The cost of the course also includes transportation to and from the Marathon Airport or Marathon hotels at pre-established times that will be provided after you are a confirmed student.


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


Please note: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Cognitive & Behaviorial Marine Mammal Research DolphinLab is cancelled for 2020. We hope to welcome you in May 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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