Posts Tagged 'Dolphins'



A Blue View: Dolphin Intelligence and Cognition

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. EST as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

Dolphin Intelligence Series
October 9, 2012: Dolphin Intelligence Series – Part Two: Underwater Keyboard Study

Listen to Dr. Diana Reiss and John Racanelli discuss her latest experiment with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins here

Dr. Diana Reiss, a cognitive psychologist, professor of psychology at Hunter College in New York, and research scientist, joined John Racanelli for a two-part series on the intelligence and cognition of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Dr. Reiss has taken a truly innovative approach to working with these highly-intelligent mammals. In a recent experiment, she gave the dolphins the ability to ask for things by using an underwater keyboard!

September 25, 2012: Dolphin Intelligence Series – Part One: Bubble Ring Play

Listen to Dr. Diana Reiss and John Racanelli discuss her examination of  “bubble ring play” with our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins here

Dr. Diana Reiss has conducted research on dolphin cognition all over the world, including here at the National Aquarium. One of the studies Dr. Reiss has conducted examines what she calls “bubble ring play.”

Our youngest dolphin Bayley starting exhibiting “bubble ring play” at only two years old! Check out this video on how we train our dolphins:

**Due to some technical issues with WYPR’s broadcast, our session originally broadcast on October 4, 2012, discussing Eastern Oyster Recovery, was unavailable to post until now. Click here to listen to John discuss the importance of restoring oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay. 

Thoughtful Thursdays: The Impact of Marine Debris on Animal Strandings

On Sunday, July 15, the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team was alerted to a live stranded dolphin at the northern-most end of Assateague Island National Seashore. The body condition of the animal appeared normal, but the animal’s behavior indicated it was stressed.

The animal was identified as an Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), strandings of which have been rarely documented in Maryland. Atlantic spotted dolphins are different from Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, but share similar habitat off the coast of Maryland during the summer months. Spotted dolphins are typically a darker purplish-gray and have variable spots that develop with age, and are often found in groups of 20 or more individuals. When an individual animal of a social species strands, it can be an indicator that the animal separated from a group due to reasons such as health or social issues.

Trained first responders arrived on the scene and acted quickly to provide triage and coordinate a plan to move the animal off the island. Unfortunately, the condition of the animal deteriorated during transport and the animal was humanely euthanized by Aquarium veterinarians to relieve suffering.

While this outcome is unfortunate, there is still a great deal that we can learn from the experience and from all stranded animals. For every animal that does not survive, we perform a complete necropsy (an animal autopsy). In this case, we worked closely with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Final necropsy results are still pending, but there was one surprising find – an intact nitrile-coated glove was found in the stomach of the animal. This was likely a contributing factor to the cause for stranding.

Sadly, our MARP team sees this sort of case all too often. Many animals mistake trash for food and ingest all sorts of manmade, toxic items. To an endangered leatherback sea turtle, a plastic bag floating in the water looks like a tasty jellyfish—its primary prey. Trash and contaminants in the water pose health threats to humans, as well. Whether we live along the shore or hundreds of miles inland, our lives are all intimately connected to the ocean.

We caused this problem, and it’s up to us to fix it. We need to work together in international camaraderie to prevent items from reaching the water in the first place.

A member of the National Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) cleans up garbage at Ft. McHenry

There are a number of ways you can help!

  • Be mindful of safely disposing of all your trash, especially while on the beach or out on the water. What washes up on our shores is only a fraction of the garbage that ends up in the ocean.
  • Sign up for a conservation event like the International Coastal Cleanup (happening September 15, 2012).
  • Help out with one of the Aquarium’s conservation projects around the Chesapeake Bay or the Atlantic coast.

Happy Birthday, Bayley!

The National Aquarium is celebrating a birthday today – Bayley, our youngest Atlantic bottlenose dolphin born at the Aquarium on July 27, 2008, is four years old today!

About Bayely

Name meaning: Bayley was named for the Chesapeake Bay like her mom; voted by the public in a naming contest
Sex: Female

Weight: 240 pounds
Birthday:  July 27, 2008, at the National Aquarium

Bayley was born in 2008 at the National Aquarium

Family Tree: Daughter of Chesapeake (dam) and Chinook (sire)
How to Recognize: Guests can recognize Bayley because she’s the smallest of our dolphins! You can also tell by her dark eyes and straight rostrum.

You can recognize Bayley by her darker eyes

Trainer’s Note:  Bayley has become very skilled at making bubble rings that she manipulates and plays with. They are in the form of rings or even long lines, which we call “bubble snakes,” which she chases and bites at.

Bubble blowing fun!

If you can’t make it to the National Aquarium, Baltimore, today, leave your birthday wishes for Bayley in the comments section below!

2012 Annual Maryland Dolphin Count Recap

The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team was joined by volunteers on Friday, July 20, for the 15th Annual Maryland Dolphin Count. This year, 31 dolphins were sighted.

Three dolphins swimming near Ocean City, MD
Credit: John Soule

More than 100 volunteers of all ages came out between 9–11 a.m. to help record dolphin sightings at two locations in Ocean City, MD — beaches on 40th Street and 130th Street. Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look at dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. Looking at the population numbers over the years can help to determine the health of the coastal ecosystem as well as the abundance of prey.

Volunteers helping to count dolphins on 40th Street in Ocean City, MD

During the 2011 dolphin count, 107 dolphins were recorded, which is relatively normal. This year’s count is lower and is likely a result of several factors, including the weather, bigger swells and food availability.

“The National Aquarium team is incredibly thankful to all the volunteers who joined us for this year’s Dolphin Count,” said Jennifer Dittmar, Marine Animal Rescue Program Stranding Coordinator.

The evening before the annual count, a fundraiser was held at Seacrets: Jamaica USA, which raised $2,000 for MARP.

For more information on MARP and how the general public can assist with rescue efforts, visit aqua.org/care.

Thoughtful Thursday: Join MARP in Ocean City, MD

Today: Marine Animal Rescue Fundraiser at Seacrets

Join the National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program for a fun afternoon at Seacrets: Jamaica USA! Family activities take place from 3:30–5 p.m. in the family dining area, which includes crafts, games and other activities. Free!

From 5–9 p.m., the fun takes place in Seacrets’ main stage area. Enjoy fun games and a special raffle for a behind-the-scenes experience at the National Aquarium, Baltimore! The evening’s cover is a $5 donation to the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program. Every person who gives a donation will receive a free gift!

Seacrets: Jamaica USA
117 West 49th Street
Ocean City, MD 21842

Friday: Annual Maryland Dolphin Count

The fun doesn’t stop there! This Friday, July 20, the public is invited to join Aquarium staff for the Annual Maryland Dolphin Count along the Atlantic coast of Maryland.

One of the joys of going to the beach is being able to see dolphins surf in the waves. The National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program works hard throughout the year to monitor and respond to marine animals off of Maryland’s coast, while educating the public about keeping our waterways safe and healthy for the animals we love so much.

Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists capture a snapshot look about dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. We have learned that bottlenose dolphins use Maryland waters as a thoroughfare for migration, summertime breeding, and feeding along the way. With the help of volunteers we will continue to gather and analyze this information and learn more about the state of our waters and the dolphin populations that are found off our coast.

The annual Dolphin Count involves spending a few hours on the beach watching the water for passing dolphins and filling out a data sheet. Aquarium staff will be stationed at the following locations:

  • 40th Street in Ocean City on the beach
  • 130th Street in Ocean City on the beach
    Click here to find out more about the Ocean City beach locations

The event is FREE and open to the public. Just look for Aquarium staff in blue shirts looking toward the water for dolphins! The count will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

As a reminder, it is always helpful to bring the following items for comfort:

  • A beach chair or blanket
  • Water to keep hydrated
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Binoculars, optional

For more information on either event, email MARP@aqua.org.

So, how many dolphins do you think we’ll count?


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