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Back to DolphinLab Teen Main Course List

Teen Marine Mammal Care & Basic Training DolphinLab

Course Information

Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training DolphinLab builds on the knowledge and experience gained in both Teen Basic and Teen Intermediate DolphinLabs. During this immersive program, students work closely with our Education and Animal Care and Training staff, with a hands-on approach to learning about basic training methods and husbandry care practices with DRC’s dolphin family.

Students participate in multiple sessions on the floating docks to gain training experience with the dolphins throughout the week. As a part of their introduction into marine mammal care and behavior, students experience hands-on learning opportunities in dolphin husbandry and training, including diet preparation; and how to feed, reinforce, and maintain established behaviors. Most importantly, and at the very core of training, students establish a trusting relationship with the dolphins throughout the week, learning how to read their behavior and understand their individual choices and preferences.

Students also observe and assist in a number of medical demonstrations with the animals. At the conclusion of the course, students showcase their animal handling skills by conducting a public dolphin session narrated by DRC’s 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 hour-long discussion based seminars, observation time, and hands-on activities aimed at giving students an in-depth understanding of careers in marine mammal care and training. Class sizes average eight to ten students to ensure individualized instruction.

Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training DolphinLab is an academically intensive, physically rigorous 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. The teen must be open to receiving and implementing constructive feedback from the trainers during sessions on the floating dock.

Primarily focused on the Common bottlenose dolphin, the course also delves lightly into marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, and medical care and pathology.

The program runs Sunday through Friday. Photo ID is required at pick up on Friday in order for us to sign out your teen. Additional information and required waivers and forms are provided in the Welcome Packet emailed to each teen and parent once the applicant is enrolled and the course is confirmed to run.  

If you would like to come to Dolphin Research Center while your teen is attending DolphinLab, you must pay daily general admission or purchase a DRC membership. We respectfully request that you do not interfere with the programs in which the teens participate. Sometimes just seeing a parent can disrupt the momentum of an activity. 

Seminars May Include:

  • Relationships in Animal Care and Training

  • Marine Mammal Husbandry

  • Introduction to Dolphin Handling

  • Marine Mammal Medical Care and Pathology 

  • Marine Mammal Rescue and Rehabilitation

Interactive Programs Include:

  • One Dolphin Splash session

  • One Dolphin Encounter session

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

Additional Hands-On 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.

Accommodations During the Week of DolphinLab:

Lodging is available onsite at the DRC Residence for up to five (5) teens. The teens are supervised by our DolphinLab Chaperone when at the Residence, and all meals are provided each day of the program. The DRC Residence is available on a first-come, first-served basis for the first five (5) teens who enroll and indicate on their application that they want to stay at the Residence.

DolphinLab participants who do not stay in the residence and their parents must secure their own accommodations at one of the many local hotels or resorts in Marathon. For teens who are 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 teen and parent.

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 for Teen Marine Mammal Care & Basic Training DolphinLab is $1,800.00 (US) without lodging and meals, or $2,250.00 (US) including lodging and all meals during the program. Tuition also includes all seminars, activities, interactive programs, a field trip, digital photographs of the teen’s dolphin interactions throughout the week, and a digital video of the final dock presentation.   

Tuition does not include transportation to and from any airport, or to and from DRC each day if the teen is not staying in the DRC Residence. It is the parent and teen’s responsibility to secure transportation.


Students must successfully complete both Teen Basic and Intermediate DolphinLabs before participating in Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training DolphinLab. During the summer, these labs are offered consecutively. The teen may enroll in all three Labs within the same summer; however, Dolphin Research Center reserves the right to determine whether the student continues on to Teen MMC&BT DolphinLab based on his/her performance in Teen Basic and/or Teen Intermediate DolphinLab. Additionally, students who successfully complete the Teen Marine Mammal Care and Basic Training DolphinLab, upon turning 18 years of age are eligible to continue onto the Adult Advanced Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment DolphinLab, as well as the other Career Series Adult DolphinLab courses!

Related Links


Enrollment for the 2023 Teen Marine Mammal Care & Basic Training DolphinLab is OPEN. Please complete and submit the online application to begin enrollment. There is a $200.00 non-refundable, non-transferable deposit to secure your space for Teen MMC&BT DolphinLab. This payment will be applied to your final balance. Once the application is submitted, you will receive a link within 72 hours/3 days to complete payment of the deposit. Please note: You must successfully complete both Teen Basic and Teen Intermediate DolphinLabs before participating in Teen MMC&BT DolphinLab


Questions? Please email 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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