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Career Series: Advanced Marine Mammal Training & Enrichment DolphinLab

Course Information

After completing Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training DolphinLab, students may apply for Advanced Marine Mammal Training & Enrichment DolphinLab. AT&E DolphinLab is a six day program, during which students work closely with our Education and Animal Care and Training staff. 

Building on the knowledge they acquired during Marine Mammal Care & Basic Training DolphinLab, students take an active role in daily dolphin training sessions. They focus on training a new behavior to DRC’s dolphins while exploring animal enrichment and contemplating more complex issues surrounding marine mammal care.

During these sessions, students collaborate in a small group or in small groups, depending on the class size, and implement a training plan they develop to train a new behavior to a dolphin. Public speaking skills are also developed or enhanced, as students learn how to present dolphins and their training experiences to the public.

Students showcase the new behavior they trained for Dolphin Research Center guests in a formal, narrated presentation. Students also explore animal enrichment through directed activities implemented with our dolphins and sea lions. Under the guidance of our staff, students create enrichment toys and activities and present them to the animals throughout the week while they observe the animals' responses.

In order to better understand training differences between species and the need for flexibility in advanced training techniques, students also apply their knowledge of training principles by teaching a new behavior to a canine DolphinLab participant! Each student individually develops a training plan for the behavior to be trained, participates daily in regularly scheduled sessions with his/her canine partner, and demonstrates progress to DRC staff at the end of the week.

This course offers students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on career experience in the application of training principles under the guidance of our accomplished trainers. Advanced Training and Enrichment DolphinLab is an academically intensive, physically rigorous, six-day program specifically designed for students seriously interested in pursuing a career in marine mammal care and training. The adult must be open to receiving and implementing constructive feedback from the trainers during sessions on the floating dock, as well as during canine training sessions. Class sizes average six to twelve students to ensure individualized instruction.

The program runs Sunday through 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 May Include:

  • Principles of Operant Conditioning 

  • Behavior Chain Development

  • Marine Mammal Enrichment

  • Principles of Dog Training

  • Marine Mammals in the Military

Hands-On Activities & Interactive Programs Include:

  • Daily Dock Time (informal observation and interaction from the floating docks)

  • Multiple Daily Dolphin Training Sessions 

  • Marine Mammal Enrichment Sessions

  • Daily Canine Training Sessions

  • One Dolphin Encounter session

  • Record Keeping

  • Diet Preparation

  • Assisting in Husbandry Care

  • Creating and Implementing a Formal Public Educational Presentation

Additional Activities Include:

  • Daily Dolphin & Sea Lion Advanced Training Demonstrations facilitated by senior staff

  • Daily Discussions with trainers about the progress of behaviors being trained by students

  • Marine Mammal Enrichment Workshops

  • A panel discussion with senior members of our Animal Care and Training department on interspecies differences in training

Accommodations During the week of DolphinLab:

Lodging is available onsite at the DRC Residence for up to six (6) adults for a fee of $100.00 per night, and occupancy is available Sunday through Thursday nights only. Each adult is responsible for purchasing and preparing breakfast and dinner each day of the program, and for completing after-meal cleaning and general cleaning tasks while staying at the DRC Residence. The DRC Residence is available on a first-come, first-served basis for the first six (6) adults who indicate on their application that they want to stay at the Residence. 

DolphinLab participants who do not stay in the residence must secure their own accommodations at one of the many local hotels or resorts in Marathon. For adults not staying in the DRC Residence, lunch and snacks are provided each day of the program, but all other meals are the responsibility of the adult. 

Dolphin Research Center partners with local hotels in an effort to offer participants discounted rates on accommodations. Partner hotels are not available in advance as the hotels that choose to participate vary from year to year. A list of participating hotels, details, rates, and booking instructions are provided in the Welcome Packet emailed to each participant once a Lab is confirmed to run. Dolphin Research Center does not handle bookings or payments for any of the participating establishments.

Tuition:

Tuition for Advanced Marine Mammal Training & Enrichment DolphinLab is $1,800.00 (US). Tuition includes all seminars, activities, interactive programs, digital photographs taken from various dolphin interactions throughout the week, a video of the final public presentation provided via digital link, 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. 

Prerequisites:

Students must successfully complete Adult Basic DolphinLab and Marine Mammal Care & Basic Training DolphinLab before participating in Advanced Marine Mammal Training & Enrichment DolphinLab. Applicants 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. If you simply want a vacation with dolphins, the Career Series courses are not the right fit for your goals, as these courses are quite rigorous and intensive.


Related Links

Enrollment

Adult Advanced Training & Enrichment DolphinLab will not be offered in 2023. Please check the Course Dates page between November 2023 and January 2024 for the dates in which the course will be offered in 2024. Thank you! 

 

Questions? Please email education@dolphins.org so the Education team can help!  

 

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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