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Back to DolphinLab Teen Main Course List

DolphinLab Teen Marine Mammal Care & Basic Training

Course Information

Working closely with our Education and Animal Care and Training staff, students take a hands-on approach to learning about basic training methods and husbandry care practices with DRC’s dolphin family.

Students participate in a number of interactive activities, including a meet and greet wade-in session, a swim session as well as multiple sessions down on the docks gaining training experience with the dolphins throughout the week. As a part of their introduction into marine mammal care and behavior, students will experience hands on learning opportunities in dolphin husbandry and training, including diet preparation; and how to feed, reinforce, and maintain established behaviors.

Students will also observe and assist in a number of medical demonstrations with the animals. At the conclusion of the course, students will show off their animal handling skills by conducting a public dolphin session narrated by DRC’s animal care and training staff for the center’s visitors.

Students learn to respect each dolphin as an individual with his or her own “dolphinality” through observation of their unique behavioral and physical characteristics. The course includes a unique blend of seminars, observation time, and hands-on activities aimed at giving students an in depth understanding of careers in marine mammal care and training.

Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training is an academically intensive, physically rigorous, seven-day program specifically designed for students seriously interested in pursuing a career in marine mammal care and training. This course offers students a unique opportunity to gain career oriented hands-on experience under the guidance of our accomplished trainers.

Primarily focused on the common bottlenose dolphin, the course also delves lightly into the care of sea lions and DRC’s rescue efforts with the Florida manatee.

Seminars Include:

  • Bottlenose Dolphin Life History/Physiology
  • Marine Mammal Husbandry
  • Introduction to Marine Mammal Training Techniques
  • Principles of Dolphin Handling
  • Medical Care and Pathology of Marine Mammals
  • Marine Mammal Rescue and Rehabilitation
  • Habitat Design & Maintenance
  • Pinniped Life History/Physiology
  • Manatee Life History/Physiology

Hands-On Activities Include:

  • One Dolphin Splash
  • One Dolphin Encounter session
  • Daily dolphin handling dock sessions beginning mid-week, record keeping, diet preparation & assisting in husbandry care.

Class sizes average ten to fourteen students to ensure individualized instruction.

Additional Activities Include:

  • Training Demonstration
  • Training Workshop
  • Husbandry tour
  • Reinforcement Techniques Workshop
  • Pinniped demonstration
  • Medical behavior demonstrations
  • Observation Time
  • Q&A panel discussion with senior trainers on the differences in caring for various marine mammals.


The cost of Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training is $1800.00 (US). Tuition includes all seminars, activities, meals, and lodging. Also included in the tuition are photographs of your swim session and video montage documenting dock sessions from throughout the week. The cost of the course also includes transportation to and from the Key West Airport at pre-established times that will be provided to you after you are a confirmed student.


Students must successfully complete Teen Basic and Intermediate DolphinLab before participating in Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training (During the summer, these labs are offered consecutively. You may enroll to take Basic, Intermediate and Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training during the same summer.) Additionally students, who successfully complete the Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training DolphinLab, upon turning 18 years of age are eligible to continue on to the Adult Advanced Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment DolphinLab.

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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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