Behind every great achievement, there is a team.
Here at Dolphin Connection we have a truly compromise with the environment and the marine mammals that we truly love and care about.
We invite you to scroll and learn more about our labor.
Dolphin Connection supports the Vaquita Conservation, Protection and Recovery initiative, an emergency plan to help save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, including construction of a temporary sea pen sanctuary in which the existing wild vaquita can be protected until lethal fishing gillnets are removed from the region. This initiative is being led by the Mexican government and supported by accredited zoos and aquariums around the world.
Dolphin Connection supports a multi-institutional partnership study of cetacean welfare initiatied by the Chicago Zoological Society. The study uses a scientific approach to understand how physical habitat, environmental enrichment and animal training inflence dolphin welfare, with the objective of developing a collaborative long-term health monitoring system and best practice health management program.
Dolphin Connection supports The Better Bag Challenge in partnership with The Ocean Conservancy. Our goal is to spread awareness and inspire action to reduce ocean plastic trash, specifically single-use plastic bags, by inviting individuals to refuse the use of plastic bags for one full year, and providing them with a durable and reusable cloth bag replacement. The objective is to scientifically determine our ability to inspire positive change on behalf of the environment.
Dolphin Connection supports Comparative Interpretation of Thoracic Radiography, Ultrasound, and CT: a multimodal approach to bottlenose dolphin lung imaging with the National Marine Mammal Foundation, the US Navy Marine Mammal Program, Disney's Animal Programs, and Chicago Zoological Society. This veterinary study utilized side-by-side comparisons of CT scans, x-rays and ultrasound images to enhance and improve diagnosis, treatment, and health in bottlenose dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Examination of the Gut Microbiomes of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins with The University of Tampa. This study defines normal and abnormal microbial diversity, and develops a valuable health assay for clinical and veterinary use as part of a preventative medical regime.
Dolphin Connection supports Reference Ranges for Body Condition in Bottlenose Dolphins in Human Care and in the Wild with NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Mote Marine Laboratory and Chicago Zoological Society. This study provides a valuable model, including weight, length, girth and age comparisons, which allow for accurate estimations among researchers lacking data on dolphin mass or age. Ultimately, these references can be used to evaluate and compare the body condition of individual animals and provide an additional metric for evaluating the general health of coastal populations. This study expands upon the morphometric study conducted by Dolphin Connection over 13 years ago.
Dolphin Connection supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Dolphin Welfare Initiative by participating in the development of acceptable methods and protocols for collecting behavioral data on dolphins in managed-care facilities. This pilot testing program is the first step in establishing baseline data and information across multiple disciplines to establish excellence in the welfare and management of bottlenose dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Plasma Acute Phase Proteins in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and Correlation with Commonly Used Inflammatory Indices in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo and Mote Marine Laboratory. This project aims to determine whether acute phase proteins can be used to determine the health of wild dolphin populations. In this study, our dolphins served as the controls, providing data from normal healthy animals, which gives wild researchers a guideline to determine the health status of wild dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Comparing Dietary Consumption of Tannins in Common Bottlenose Dolphins in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo. This project strives to determine the dietary components of iron overload disease. Through the testing of dietary food fish consumed by our dolphins, we are identifying the naturally occuring levels of tannins found here, including if and how this plant-based product might effect iron storage and therefore the potential for liver disease in dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Noise Characterization of Dolphin Habitats, in cooperation with the National Marine Mammal Foundation. This project characterizes the underwater noise environment of facilities that hold marine mammals, both in natural and pool settings, in order to assess animal welfare relative to noise conditions experienced by animals in wild habitats. Oceanic noise pollution is currently an immerging concern. This project establishes baselines for measuring environmental ocean noise, as well as establishes baselines for healthy acoustic environments for the animals in our care.
Dolphin Connection supports Targeting Prevention and Treatment of Iron Overload & Insulin Resistance in Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, in cooperation with the National Marine Mammal Foundation. This project aims to determine if insulin resistance is also associated with iron overload, and to target dietary or feeding interventions that may prevent iron overload in bottlenose dolphins. If successful, this research will not only benefit the health of dolphins, but will also provide critical guidance to help stem the global rise of type 2 diabetes in humans.
Dolphin Connection supports Ultrasound-Based Health Evaluation of West Florida Shelf Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, in cooperation with Mote Marine Laboratory and the National Marine Mammal Foundation. This project uses ultrasound examination techniques to assess the health of wild dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico that may have been affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Dolphin Connection supports West Florida Shelf bottlenose dolphins: Population Structure, Health, and Oil Spill Impacts, in cooperation with Mote Marine Laboratory. This project includes health assessments of the population of bottlenose dolphins living in the offshore waters of the west coast of Florida that may have been affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Dolphin Connection supports Comparing Dietary Consumption of Iron in Wild versus Captive Dolphins, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo. This project involves the analysis of food fish samples from zoos and aquariums as well as wild prey species found in Sarasota Bay, and the analysis of dolphin blood samples to determine the causes and prevalence of Iron Storage Disease.
Dolphin Connection supports Establishment of Immunologic Baseline Values in Dolphin in Captive, Stranded & Free-Ranging Tursiops truncatus in the Gulf of Mexico Region, in cooperation with the Mirage Dolphin Habitat. This project strives to obtain accurate baseline blood values of bottlenose dolphins prior to oil exposure to allow for understanding the long-term impacts of oil contamination on dolphin health.
Dolphin Connection supports Non-invasive Diet Determination from Sperm Whale and Beaked Whale Feces, in cooperation with the New England Aquarium and the Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization. This project strives to assess stress responses in Blainville’s beaked whales and sperm whales through assays of fecal steroid hormones.
Dolphin Connection supports Bottlenose Dolphin Health Assessment in Sarasota Bay, in cooperation with Mote Marine Laboratory and the Chicago Zoological Society. This ongoing project involves the collection of samples from the wild dolphin population off the west coast of Florida to provide benchmark data for the protection of dolphins worldwide.
Dolphin Connection supports Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Education Programs: Benefits for Conservation Education and Animal Welfare, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo, Disney The Seas, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Minnesota Zoo, the Texas State Aquarium and the University of Southern Mississippi. This project strives to examine the effects of dolphin shows and interaction programs on Atlantic bottlenose dolphin behavior and visitor’s conservation-related knowledge, attitude and behavior.
Dolphin Connection supports Etho Trak: Electronic Behavioral Data Monitoring, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Minnesota Zoo, the Texas State Aquarium and Disney The Seas. This project strives to produce an easy-to-use flexible and shareable digital system for the collection of basic behavioral data within zoological institutions.
Dolphin Connection supports Managing Male Bottlenose Dolphins: Integrating Behavioral Studies in Captivity and the Wild to Develop Behavioral Standards, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo, Disney The Seas and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. This project strives to establish norms for managing males in order to promote appropriate social units and social development.
Dolphin Connection supports Development of an Underwater Recording System to Document Bottlenose Dolphin Behavior and Vocalizations, in cooperation with the School of Marine Science and Technology and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. This project strives to develop a more accurate means of documenting the correlation between dolphin vocalizations and their physical action.
Dolphin Connection supports Partitioning of Environmental Contaminants in Bottlenose Dolphin Tissues, in cooperation with the Chicago Zoological Society and the National Marine Fisheries Service. This project strives to calibrate the data and data collection techniques of toxins in the blood of bottlenose dolphins in an effort to better understand the effects on health, survivorship and reproduction.
Dolphin Connection supports Protocol to Monitor Calf Whistle Development, in cooperation with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This project strives to identify the social contexts in which dolphin calves develop their own signature whistle or imitate another’s.
Dolphin Connection supports Development and Implementation of a Cooperative Breeding Management Plan for Tursiops truncatus, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Minnesota Zoo, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Texas State Aquarium and Disney The Seas. This project strives to develop and maintain a coordinated and cooperative breeding effort with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins among various like-minded institutions dedicated to managing a sustainable population.
Dolphin Connection supports Determination of Morphometrics Calculations in Bottlenose Dolphin, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo, the Dolphin Experience and Outernet Technologies. This project strives to develop a more accurate means of determining physical data with bottlenose dolphins using a “morphometrics calculator”.
Dolphin Connection supports A Non-Invasive Technique for Studying Baseline Concentrated Cortisol Levels of Bottlenose Dolphins, in cooperation with Mote Marine Laboratory. This project strives to calibrate the cortisol levels in serum collected voluntarily from bottlenose dolphins in non-stressful situations and compare it to wild dolphins involved in Eastern Tropical Pacific purse seine tuna netting activities.
Dolphin Connection supports Regurgitation in Cetaceans: Medical Implications, in cooperation with Sea World of Florida. This project strives to understand the causes, impacts, and solutions of voluntary, behaviorally-induced regurgitation among cetaceans.
Dolphin Connection supports Semen Cryopreservation and Reproductive Endocrinologic Characterization of the Bottlenose Dolphin, in cooperation with SeaWorld. This project strives to develop an artificial insemination program with bottlenose dolphins in a public display facility.
Dolphin Connection supports Dolphin Cerebral Hemodynamics with Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound, in cooperation with the University of Texas. This project strives to determine if Doppler ultrasound is capable of measuring blood velocity in the arteries of living dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Lupron Depot Suspension Trials for Contraception in Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo and the US Navy Marine Mammal Program. This project strives to develop a reversible contraceptive in male Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Seasonality of Reproduction in Bottlenose Dolphins, in cooperation with Mote Marine Laboratory. This project strives to identify the peak birth periods of bottlenose dolphins based on geographic location.
Dolphin Connection supports Preliminary Study of Contaminant Levels in the Blood and Milk of Bottlenose Dolphins, in cooperation with the University of California, Santa Cruz and the US Navy Marine Mammal Program. This project strives to collect preliminary data which will help to determine a long-term study to monitor the build up and transfer of contaminants within a dolphin population.
Dolphin Connection supports Tooth Aging in Dolphins: Possible Contributions from Captive Animals, in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service. This project strives to understand and interpret growth layers in dolphin teeth as a means of determining age.
Dolphin Connection supports Signature Whistle Development in Young Dolphins, in cooperation with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This project is part of a long-term study on the development and the social and behavioral roles of signature whistle development of young dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Effects of Stress on the Dolphin Immune System, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo and the University of California, Davis. This project strives to compare stress levels as indicated through blood parameters between non-stressed captive animals and free ranging animals with environmentally induced stress.
Dolphin Connection supports A Non-Invasive Technique for Monitoring Reproductive Hormones using Dolphin Saliva, in cooperation with the Brookfield Zoo. This project strives to calibrate the hormonal levels found in saliva collected voluntarily from bottlenose dolphins to help better understand reproduction in dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Behavioral Parameters in a Breeding Population of Tursiops truncatus. This project strives to determine the presence of alloparental care within Dolphin Connection’s successfully breeding population of bottlenose dolphins.
Dolphin Connection supports Thermal Profiles of Warm Water Dolphins, in cooperation with the University of California, Santa Cruz. This project strives to determine the body condition of bottlenose dolphins acclimated to warm water.
Keep your distance. Remain a safe and respectful distance from animals. Use binoculars or zoom lenses to get a close-up look. If on the water, avoid excessive boat speed or abrupt changes in speed or direction. Stay fully clear of a dolphin’s, whale’s, or manatee’s path. If approached by these animals, put the engine in neutral and allow them to pass.
Limit time spent observing animals. Half an hour is reasonable. Chances are you haven’t been the only one to approach the animal that day.
Stay clear of mothers with young. Mothers with young are especially vulnerable to human disturbance. Never herd, chase, or separate a mother from its young.
Resist the temptation to “save” animals, especially “orphans.” Mom is usually watching from a safe distance. If an animal appears sick, get professional help by calling animal control officers or, if appropriate, a local zoo or aquarium.
Never surround an animal. Always leave an “escape” route. Dolphins, whales, and manatees should not be trapped between boats, or between boats and shore. Keep pets on a leash or leave them at home. Both pets and wild animals can be hurt if bitten.
Don't Litter. Plastic bags, six pack rings, nets, hooks and fishing line create hazards for wild animals in the ocean. When enjoying nature and watching wild animals, carry along a trash bag and dispose of it properly when you return to shore.
Do not touch or feed wild marine mammals. To do so is a federal offense under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) which was designed to protect marine mammals. The MMPA makes it illegal to feed, pursue, or chase wild marine mammals in US waters.
Wild animals will naturally forage for food in the easiest way possible and will often congregate in areas where people might be tempted to feed them. Wild marine mammals who accept food (or, in the case of manatees, water) from people, lose their natural wariness of humans. These animals are more likely to swim too close to boats where they are often injured by propellers or entangled in fishing gear. Boat strikes and entanglement have been known to be fatal to wild dolphins, manatees and even baleen whales. Even worse, this behavior can be passed on from mother to offspring, producing generations of animals who, by learning to beg for food, haven't learned how to properly hunt. Illness is also a problem if spoiled food or the wrong types are being fed. If you truly love wild dolphins, whales and manatees, please don't feed them!
For more information or to report harrassment or violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, please call the enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964
For more information on bottlenose dolphin conservation, visit the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office or the Dolphin SMART website.
To report a stranded animal in the Southeast United States, please call 1-877-WHALE HELP
Dolphin Connection reminds all patrons that the close interactions with, and feeding of, dolphins depicted on our website are legally permissible only because these animals are in human care under a federal permit. Attempting the same behavior in the wild is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/mmpa/) and can result in serious harm to both humans and animals. Visit www.dolphinsmart.org to learn how to responsibly view dolphins in the wild or book a dolphin excursion with a recognized Dolphin SMART business.