Skip to main content
  • Image for Slide #1
  • Image for Slide #2
  • Image for Slide #3
  • Image for Slide #4
< Back

Membership & Donations



Being a Dolphin Research Center Member entitles you to year-round complimentary admission, newsletters, online access to our Members Only area of the website, discounts at our onsite and online Gift Shops and other benefits depending on Membership level. As well as for you, memberships make wonderful gifts for friends and family. All memberships, gifts and donations are 100% tax deductible

A receipt will be e-mailed to the address you provide.  Membership options include:


Adopt-A-Dolphin or Sea Lion

Wish to symbolically adopt a particular dolphin or sea lion friend? Adoptions include an electronic adoption certificate and color photo, biography and other benefits such as an annual admission pass with additional complimentary guest admission(s) depending on your adoption level. You can adopt a dolphin or sea lion for as little as $30 a year. Learn more about our Adopt-A-Dolphin Membership options.


Dolphin Society

Dolphin Society memberships start at only $40 and include annual DRC admission, e-newsletters and other benefits. Your donations help us provide the finest care and home for the dolphins and sea lions and support the research, education, manatee rescue and other aspects of our mission. Learn more about our Dolphin Society Membership options.


Commemorative Walkway Membership

Walkway pavers not only give you the opportunity to support DRC, but also to create a lasting memory for you and your loved ones. Walkway memberships start at only $100 and include an engraved paver, annual DRC admission, newsletters, and other benefits. Learn more about our Commemorative Walkway Paver Membership options.


Classroom Membership

A Classroom Membership is the perfect way to help Dolphin Research Center help children understand the importance of the marine environment that we all share while supporting DRC. Memberships include an adoption certificate, a full-color photograph and biography of your favorite dolphin or sea lion, a full-color booklet about marine mammals and DRCand regular e-newsletters.  A Classroom adoption is the perfect gift for a class. Classroom memberships do not include general admission. Learn more about our Classroom Membership.


Business Membership

Business Memberships include DRC admissions, free admission passes for your staff and customers, newsletters, space for a corporate event, event admission and other benefits.  Get full details on the benefits offered by becoming a Business Member.

A thumbnail image for 'Membership'

Donations, Special Appeals & Wish Lists

Donations, Special Appeals & Wish Lists

As a not-for-profit 501c3 corporation, Dolphin Research Center relies on and greatly appreciates support from generous, caring people like you.

To help support DRC’s mission of Education, Research, and Conservation, as well as the direct care of our marine mammal family, we gratefully accept donations for General Support, Special Appeals or particular Wish List items.  All types of donations are 100% tax deductible. A receipt will be e-mailed to the address provided by you.

General Support (PayPal and Venmo now available)

Donations intended for general support allow Dolphin Research Center to apply your money where it is currently most needed. Please Make a donation here.

Special Appeals

The following are specific causes that need particular support.

  • Special Needs Dolfriends Program
  • Wild dolphin population research study - we need a bigger boat! In addition to helping with normal expenses related to our wild dolphin study, we could really use a larger boat in order to carry all the equipment necessary for our field research. 

If you would like to directly support one of these programs, please make a donation under General Support. In the Additional Comments or Special Instructions box on the donation page, just let us know to which program you would like your support directed. Thank you so much!

Wish Lists

Wish list donations support the purchase of particular items that are currently needed. We've asked our various departments to identify items that support the different aspects of our mission. With the exception of any items with a specific link, we ask that you please do not directly purchase an item yourself as we have very specific needs that may dictate a certain design, style, or make/model of an item.

Donate money for any of the following items.                                                    


Special Needs Department                    

  • Floaty boats for Wounded Warrior enrichment sessions - listed on this page
  • Wounded Warrior Meal Sponsorship or Donation - $700 Per Day    

Avian Care

Manatee Rescue 

  • Our Manatee Rescue Trailer is in dire need of replacement. We are looking for a 7'X14 Tandem Axle enclosed trailer similar to the second one listed on this page.
  • Our DRC Manatee Rescue team is in need of a new or used jet propelled watercraft with trailer to assist with Manatee rescues. When an injured Manatee is called in, we currently use kayaks to paddle around areas where injured Manatees are spotted to locate them, but having a jet propelled PWC would help us respond more quickly. Your donation would help increase our chances of locating these manatees faster, help us guide them into an area so we can assist them, and set up our rescue equipment with greater ease. This would be a wonderful addition to our tools to help save these beautiful endangered animals.
  • Kayaks to help us locate and maneuver around an injured manatee - $1,000
  • Mercury 4 stroke outboard engine
  • Hoop Net - $450
  • Foam Pads (2) - $520
  • 90 hp Honda Outboard Motor - $13,000

Medical Department

  • Canon MR-14 EX II Macro Ring Light which is used when photos are necessary for medical purposes - $549
  • Erchonia EVL handheld laser - This is Erchonia’s newest and most advanced laser system that incorporates all pain management treatment applications into one device.   It is a handheld laser system which has one red diode at 635nm, 7.5mW and one violet diode at 405nm, 5mW. 405nm wavelength has antibacterial and fungus treatment applications, as well as allowing you to treat both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in unison.  It is completely cordless, with the two laser diodes coming out of the swivel head on top of the laser, and the charging mechanism is a cradle that the laser sits in when not in use to wirelessly charge it. The EVL is priced at $14,900 

Animal Care & Training Department                      

Animal Care & Habitat Department

  • Can you offer DRC your expertise with solar lighting and panels?  We have 4 units that are non-functional at this time and would like to have them repaired.  We plan to use these as alternative lighting and power sources during hurricane season, and may be able to use these fill-time to offer our guests a place to charge their phones or batteries.  We would appreciate any help you could provide.  Please contact Stacy at ext 224 or
  • Seagrass Curtains to keep seagrass out of the lagoons - $47.99 each.  We could use 6.
  • Jump Starter - $149
  • Coolers - $52.  We could use 2
  • Heating Pads to help keep our staff warm when cleaning the lagoons in winter- $17.  We could use at least 4.
  • John Deere Gator TX - $7,538
  • Scuba Tank Gauge - $74 Need multiples
  • Cressi BCD - $199 Need size M & L
  • Dive Gloves - $30
  • Henderson Hard Sole Dive BootiesSizes 11, 10, and 9
  • Toolcat Tirespart# 7023289  at $218.49 each x 4 - $873.96

Education Department

  • 15 passenger van - ‚Äčthe Education department is in great need of replacing our current van, as it suffers from consistent maintenance issues (roof leaks, features randomly stop functioning, etc). We rely heavily on this van to transport our DolphinCamp and Teen DolphinLab students to and from beach cleanups and environmental field trips throughout the Florida Keys. Education staff utilize the van to transport equipment and staff to and from outreach events throughout the Florida Keys as well. We greatly appreciate your donation that will enable us to continue to provide safe and reliable transportation to our students and staff. Please donate here and be sure to indicate "DolphinLab van" in the "Additional comments or special instructions" section. 

Visual Communications Department

  • Manfrotto Gimbal This stabilizer will help us get smooth and steady video footage with our smaller cameras to allow us more options and angles to film our wonderful animals!
  • Canon XF605 UHD 4K HDR Pro Camcorder The Visual Communications department needs a replacement camcorder to document all the amazing activities and work we do with the animals like dolphin births, transports, medical assists, DLAB sessions, and Pathways sessions to name a few. 
  • Custom designed computer capable of processing HD dolphin and sea lion footage.  Replacement for a no longer functioning old computer - $1,800
  • Help us get underwater and weather protected photos and videos of our animal family! 

Welcome Center Finishing Touches  

Animal Care Needs for the Dolphins, Sea Lions. Birds & Tortoises

The welfare of the dolphins and sea lions is always our top priority. There are many specific items that we need on a daily basis to provide the high quality care that we devote to our animal family. We have compiled a separate list with links that will take you directly to where you can purchase these items on Amazon. 

List of daily care items that we need.

A thumbnail image for 'Donations, Special Appeals & Wish Lists'

Major Giving

Major Giving Program:

You are invited to join DRC’s Major Giving Program to support our long term financial health and help us fulfill our mission. (mission statement)

Major donors are among the most devoted and loyal supporters of DRC. Through annual gifts of $1,000 or more, you provide the critical resources necessary to support and expand our education, research, and conservation programs.

Major Gifts are dynamic and have the flexibility to be directed to a specific need like Field Research Study, Educational initiatives or wherever they are most needed. These critical funds have extraordinary impact on our work together, providing a forever loving home for our incredible dolphin and sea lion family, and provide emergency rescue to sick, injured, or orphaned manatees.

In addition to the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to support the dolphins, we also thank you by offering certain benefits. 

$1,000 - $4,999 FOUNDER:

  • Bring or send an unlimited number of guests to DRC. When sending guests, please be sure to let us know ahead of time by calling (305) 289-1121 ext. 205 for Nancy or 241 for Amy.
  • Receive our Dolphin Society Newsletter, E-newsletters and E-updates.
  • Receive an invitation to our exclusive biennial Founders weekend event. The facility is closed to the public and includes activities with the dolphins, staff presentations and a Sunset Celebration followed by an elegant dinner and auction. The auction often includes many unique items, including beautiful works of art created by our dolphins as well as collaborations created with well-known artists.
  • Receive a personal tour of DRC with a staff member and dockside visits with your favorite dolphin when you come to DRC.
  • Assistance in arranging participation in most of our interactive programs for you and your family by contacting our Development office (as close as two weeks in advance) instead of having to go through our regular reservation system. This offers quite an advantage, especially during our busy season. Of course, Major Donors and their guests can visit and view dolphin or sea lion presentations free of charge at any time. To make program arrangements, simply contact our Development Office at (305) 289-1121 ext. 241.

$5,000 – $9,999 BENEFACTOR:

Receive all the Founder Level benefits plus:

  • Insider’s early hours with the dolphins on the boardwalk with a staff member.
  • Lunch and personal tour experience with one of our Department Heads. (Once per year by appointment only.)

 $10,000 – $24,999 SUSTAINER:

Receive all the Founder & Benefactor benefits plus:

  • Access to view previously recorded, exclusive presentations by our education and research staff.
  • Lunch and personal tour experience with one of our Steering Committee Members. (Once per year by appointment only.)

 $25,000 and above SANTINI:

Receive all the Founder, Benefactor & Sustainer benefits plus:

  • Personal "virtual visit" with your favorite dolphin
  • Lunch and personal tour experience with our Co-Founder or President. (Once per year by appointment only.)

For more information about our Major Giving Program donor benefits, please contact our Development Office at (305) 289-1121 ext. 241, or email us at

A thumbnail image for 'Major Giving'

Foundation Giving

Foundation Giving

Dolphin Research Center has established itself as a premier marine mammal research and education facility through the combined efforts of our committed donors, staff, volunteers, and Board.  Foundations have played a crucial role in our accomplishments and we invite you to share in our continued success.  Below is a brief summary of our diverse programming:


DRC’s Education Department provides resources and programming for children and teachers within the Monroe County school community with goals to expand outreach and education efforts to underserved communities throughout the nation.  By incorporating DRC’s extensive catalogue of information with growing research activities, teachers and students receive an insightful learning opportunity that will ultimately help motivate them to become lifelong stewards of the environment.


DRC’s Research Department conducts cognitive and behavioral research projects.  Research staff continues to welcome and collaborate with world-renowned scientists who come to DRC to study our resident colony of dolphins.  Past and recent papers published include Understanding of the Concept of Numerically “Less” in Bottlenose Dolphins published in 2005 in Journal of Comparative Psychology, What do dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) understand about hidden objects? published in 2010 in Animal Cognition, and (in press) Fetal echocardiographic evaluation of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine.  In addition, DRC’s Director of Research Dr. Kelly Jaakola recently contributed a Cetacean Cognitive Specializations chapter for the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Evolutionary Psychology (in press).  DRC is also honored to recently garner international attention for its research project Blindfolded Imitation in a Bottlenose Dolphin, published in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Manatee Rescue

The Gray Cross evolved from DRC’s work with stranded marine mammals including dolphins, whales, sea lions, and endangered sea turtles.  While we continue to provide a great deal of resources, support, and knowledge to other teams assisting in dolphin and whale strandings, due to the possibility of transferring illnesses to the dolphins that live at our facility, DRC prudently pulled back from on-site assistance.  Instead, this critical care program has now focused on the endangered Florida Manatee.  Over the years, Florida Keys residents have initiated hundreds of calls to report manatees in distress, and DRC’s Manatee Rescue Team continues to play a significant role in the rescuing, treating, and releasing of these endangered animals.

Special Needs

DRC's Special Needs Program assists and enables individuals with various physical or mental challenges, chronic, or life threatening illnesses to participate in any of the public interactive programs offered at DRC.  Dolphin Encounter, Family Dolphin Splash, Meet the Dolphin and DRC's other educational programs are recreational interactions that can offer the opportunity for individuals to experience an encounter with a dolphin or sea lion.  The Special Needs Program helps to remove the barriers to these interactions by providing private workshops, specialized equipment, and in-water or on the docks assistance, if needed.  In addition, during our slow periods in September and October we welcome military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and mothers and children from the local Domestic Abuse Shelter as our guests to participate free of charge in these programs.  DRC is also proud to host Wounded Warriors for a complimentary swim and lunch during their annual Soldier Ride through the Keys.  This year we welcomed 31 guests in addition to 25 Wounded Warrior Project staff. 

If you are a member of a grant-making organization with interests in marine mammal and environmental education, research and conservation, please contact our Development Department for more information about any of Dolphin Research Center’s diverse programs at (305) 289-1121, ext. 241, or via email at

A thumbnail image for 'Foundation Giving'

Planned Giving

Planned Giving

Over 35 years ago Jayne and Mandy Rodriguez acquired the Dolphin Research Center with a mission to both nurture the animals in their care and promote the awareness and support for marine mammals and our ocean environment.  Mandy and Jayne’s dedication is reflected by the many donors over the years who have, and continue to, provide their collective support to ensure DRC’s goals reach fruition.

Estate and legacy gifts honor Mandy and Jayne’s incredible commitment to DRC by providing future security for DRC.  There are many avenues available when considering a contribution of this kind, with the most common way being to designate DRC as a beneficiary in a retirement plan, IRA, or life insurance policy.  Both have advantages for you and for DRC.  Other ways to make a lasting gift are outlined below:

Your Will

It is not only rich or elderly people who need a will.  A will protects your family and may help ease the probate process.  A bequest in your will means you may be able to give far more than you ever imagined.  Bequests can be made as a fixed amount or percentage of your estate, as property like securities or land, or as the remainder of your estate after all specific designations have been fulfilled.

When preparing your will, the following wording is suggested:

“I give to Dolphin  Research Center - 58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, FL 33050 - the sum of $ XX, or XX% of my estate, or the remainder of my estate after expenses and the disposition of bequests, to be used for such purposes as the Board of Directors of said organization determines.”

Beneficiary Designation

Purchasing a life insurance policy which designates DRC as a beneficiary is an economical way to make a substantial legacy gift.  The premiums can be fully tax deductible.  Life insurance is separate from your will and does not affect the distribution of your other assets.  It is confidential and flexible.  You can also choose to make DRC a beneficiary of your IRA or other retirement plan. 

Annuities and Trusts

These are charitable gifts in which you receive a tax benefit at the time of the gift, and usually also still have some type of other benefit associated with the donation.  These gifts are usually established with a contract that ends after a fixed period or upon the passing of the donor.

Trusts are the most common mechanism used to make charitable gifts that provide tax benefits to you or your designee during your lifetime.  For example, land trusts have historically been used to donate land to a charity, such that the charity immediately obtains ownership of the property, while providing the donor use of the land for his or her remaining lifetime.

With a charitable gift annuity, a tax deductible gift is made to DRC and DRC in turn provides the donor with fixed annuity payments for a specified period of time or until the donor passes. Because of the complicated tax laws and contractual arrangements associated with trusts and annuities, DRC can assist you with locating a professional to coordinate these types of transactions. Please contact our Development Department at 305-289-1121 X241 or email us at if you have any questions.

A thumbnail image for 'Planned Giving'

Stock & Retirement Giving

Stock & Retirement Giving

Dolphin Research Center is grateful to accept gifts of publicly traded stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. Please call our Development Department at (305) 289-1121 X241 or email us at drc@dolphins.orgto facilitate your gift. As with any gift to DRC, please consult your tax advisor for the exact tax benefits for your charitable contribution.

  • Include Dolphin Research Center in your will.

  • Create a charitable life-income arrangement (such as a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust) or a charitable lead trust to benefit DRC.

  • Name DRC as a beneficiary of retirement assets or life insurance.

  • Donate a personal residence or vacation home to DRC and reserve a life estate.

There are many ways to utilize your IRA’s as a part of your charitable giving plans.  Some of these strategies may be affected by legislation currently pending in Congress.  Please contact your tax or financial advisor to determine if any of these strategies are appropriate for you and your goals.

Your personal financial, tax, estate and charitable goals will determine if any of these gifts may be right for you. 

Thank you for your generosity!

A thumbnail image for 'Stock & Retirement Giving'

Founders' Photos

Founders Weekend 

Enjoy all of the photos and the memories we share. From DRC to all our extended family, we thank you for your dedicated partnership and hope that you will continue to bless us with your incredible support. Thank you to all of the Founders and Guardian Circle members, and their guests, who attended the 2015 Founders Weekend in November.  We hope that you had as wonderful of a time attending as we did in welcoming you to this unique event!  For those of you who regretfully could not attend, we look forward to your next visit.  Please know how much we all appreciate your continued commitment to DRC and our marine mammal family! 

  • Image for Slide #1 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #2 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #3 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #4 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #5 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #6 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #7 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #8 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #9 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #10 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #11 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #12 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #13 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #14 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #15 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #16 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #17 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #18 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #19 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #20 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #21 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #22 in Gallery #2
  • Image for Slide #23 in Gallery #2

DRC Founders are those who donate at least $1000.00 a year. Guardian Circle members have given at the Parent level or more for a minimum of three consecutive years or Sponsor level for five consecutive years. Get more information about becoming a DRC Founder.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Founders Weekend, this is a special time that we reserve every other year for DRC Founders and Guardian Circle members.  Dolphin Research Center closes to the public for the weekend as we share special presentations and news, enjoy great fun with the dolphin and sea lion family, spend time together enjoying meals and celebrate at the Gala dinner and auction event.

A thumbnail image for 'Founders' Photos'

Celebrate Dolphin & Sea Lion Special Days

Celebrate the Dolphins' and Sea Lions' Birthdays or Anniversaries

Who doesn't like to mark a special occasion? At Dolphin Research Center, whether they were born here or were adopted into the family, we love each dolphin and sea lion and enjoy celebrating their special days. If you've visited Dolphin Research Center, perhaps you formed a connection with a particular member of our marine mammal family. If so, you can help honor them by buying them their favorite treat - a big bucket of fish! (Each bucket costs $20.00.) Check the list below for the birthday or anniversary of arrival for every dolphin or sea lion. Thank you!

Send a Birthday Bucket of Fish.

Aleta Dec. 21, 1984 Birthday
Atocha Feb. 21, 2015 Birthday
Bowie May 31, 2022 Birthday
Cacica Feb. 24, 2015 Birthday
Calusa Feb. 15, 2001 Birthday
Cayo Dec. 13, 2006 Birthday
Delta Nov. 22, 2009 Birthday
Diamond Oct. 16, 2014 Anniversary
Diva Nov. 6, 2013 Birthday
Flagler Nov. 15, 2010 Birthday
Gambit Nov. 5, 2010 Birthday
Gypsi Jan. 6, 2007 Birthday
Jax Jan. 8, 2008 Anniversary
Kilo Jun. 25, 2002 Anniversary
Lina Jan. 13, 2011 Anniversary
Louie Feb. 6, 2011 Anniversary
Luna Jan. 29, 2010 Birthday
Merina Nov. 21, 1984 Birthday
Morada Nov. 9, 2022 Birthday
Pandora Nov, 22, 1997 Birthday
Pax Mar. 30, 1997 Birthday
Ranger Mar. 25, 2022 Anniversary
Reese Dec. 3, 2012 Birthday
Sandy Aug. 15, 1979 Birthday
Santini Nov. 29, 1986 Birthday
Summer Jan. 27, 2015 Anniversary
Talon Jun. 08, 1990 Birthday
Tanner Mar. 13, 2002 Birthday
Tursi Nov. 26, 1973 Birthday
Windley Nov. 12, 2013 Birthday
A thumbnail image for 'Celebrate Dolphin & Sea Lion Special Days'

Support Options

Support Options

Thank you for supporting Dolphin Research Center!  It is our mission that 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.

Dolphin Research Center is a 501(c)(3), not for profit organization.  Your 100% tax deductible contributions support our mission and help us provide the highest quality care for the dolphins and sea lions who have entrusted us to provide them a safe, happy, and healthy forever home.  Additionally DRC is the only licensed manatee rescue facility in the Florida Keys.  All our marine mammal family members have been born in human care or were rescued because of injury or illness and were unable or unfit to be returned to the wild.

You can support DRC in many ways:


Donations and Special Appeals

Major Giving

Our Future

Planned Giving

Foundation Giving

A thumbnail image for 'Support Options'
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.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Logo
  • Twitter Logo
  • Instagram Logo