If you live in Florida, like I do, it’s difficult at this point to concentrate on anything except Hurricane Irma. We are expected to start feeling the effects of this monster storm today, but many of us have been preparing for it all week, both at home and at work.
Those preparations include keeping animals safe, and SeaWorld Orlando is doing its part by rescuing animals from another facility. Because the Florida Keys are expected to take a direct hit, five Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins were transported from Dolphin Connection, a marine mammal organization owned by Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key to SeaWorld Orlando. Four team members from Dolphin Connection traveled with the dolphins and are caring for them at SeaWorld’s behind-the-scenes area.
Dolphin Connection is a marine life educational facility with interactive dolphin conservation programs. (The institution is accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) and the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA).)
Longtime readers of my blog know that my daughter’s passion for dolphins has led us on many adventures. One of them was a stay at Hawk’s Cay several years ago. Dolphin Connection is the only on-property resort dolphin program in the continental United States. There, guests can swim with dolphins and learn about dolphin and marine conservation. Even if resort guests choose not to book an interaction package, they can just walk along the dolphin lagoon and watch these magnificent mammals in the water.
“At Dolphin Connection we believe that experiential learning, meeting a dolphin face-to-face, encourages and motivates our guests to make difference on behalf of our planet,” the organization’s website states.
Dolphin Connection was established in 1990, and its staff and animals have worked with a variety of world-renowned researchers to make groundbreaking discoveries about bottlenose dolphins. Their research has included defining the natural behavior of breeding dolphins; gaining a better understanding of dolphin reproduction; documenting and identifying newborn dolphin calf whistles; and gaining a better understanding of how pollution can affect dolphins.
The five male dolphins that were evacuated range in age from 13 to 43 years old and are expected to stay at SeaWorld Orlando until they can be safely returned to their home in the Florida Keys. Staff members from Dolphin Connection are staying in the Orlando area to monitor the animals during the storm.