Posts Tagged 'Dolphins'

Animal Updates – May 18

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Dolphin Update

For the past several days, we have been monitoring our dolphin family following a health concern with Beau. We’re very happy to report that he’s doing much better today!

What first concerned us with Beau was a change in his appetite. To keep our dolphins healthy and happy, we feed them a specific amount of food every day. When they show a lack of interest in this food it is often the first sign of a problem or illness. Our animals’ wellbeing is our primary concern so when this happened, our staff and trainers immediately began to closely monitor Beau’s diet and vitals 24 hours a day. Although Beau was assist fed during this time, our staff continued to encourage him to eat on his own.

After a few days, Beau’s health concern started affecting others in our dolphin family. For a short time, Foster, our other male dolphin and Beau’s close buddy, started to mimic Beau’s symptoms. Aquarium staff has also become concerned with Jade and is watching her carefully.

Today, we’re happy to report significant improvements – Beau and Foster are both eating on their own. They are active, playful and their general demeanor has improved.

We want to thank everyone for their support and understanding during this time. Although we have no way of knowing the timeline of this situation, we look forward to a continued and speedy recovery.

About Beau
Name meaning:
Beau also means “Handsome”. This name was chosen to go with his mother Nani’s name, which means “Beautiful” in Hawaiian.
Sex: Male
Weight: 350 pounds
Birthday: June 27, 2005, at the National Aquarium
Family Tree: Son of Nani (dam) and Bob (sire)
How to Recognize: Guests can recognize Beau by his skinnier rostrum, consistent gray coloration of entire lower jaw and crooked teeth in lower jaw
Trainer’s Note: Beau is best buddies with Foster and is often playing with and chasing him.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Animal Updates – May 4

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our WATERlog blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Making Connections!
Beginning today, guests to the National Aquarium will find several exciting and innovative changes to enhance their experience and provide them with opportunities to view and interact with our animals and animal experts in different ways.

A highlight of the changes includes a redesigned dolphin program. Our previous format of timed, limited-access and separately priced shows have been replaced with an exciting program that offers ALL of our guests all-day access to the dolphins and experts, including elements like training, playtime and feeding in the newly renovated Dolphin Discovery. As of today, guests will be able to spend as much time as they’d like watching and learning about the dolphins. At regular intervals throughout the day, our expert trainers and staff will be leading interactive sessions that will give our guests a glimpse into the life of our dolphins like never before. These sessions will run for approximately 15–20 minutes and will cover topics like adaptations, training, play and enrichment, communication and more.

Dolphin husbandry and animal care are just two of the many things you can now learn about in our daily Dolphin Discovery interactions!

We’re also increasing our staff-led interactions to more than 40 per day – which is more than three times what we’ve done in the past! These interactions include keeper talks, dives and feedings, live animal encounters and other enrichment activities.

Join us for more than 40 encounters every day including feedings, live animal encounters, enrichment sessions, keeper talks & more!

How will you find these new encounters, you ask? With your new handy-dandy map guide and schedule of course! When you arrive at the Aquarium, be sure to pick up one of our new collectible maps. It will not only help you find your way around, but also provides you with the daily schedule of encounters, feedings, etc.

We’re thrilled to be making some big changes this year at the Aquarium, starting with this new programming that will give our guests more opportunities to make connections with our animals and experts!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

Checking in with the dolphins

The National Aquarium’s dolphin colony is a dynamic, close-knit group that is made up of mostly mothers! Nani, Chesapeake and Jade are mothers to three of our young dolphins. Nani gave birth to Beau in 2005, and Foster was born to Jade in 2007. Bayley was born to Chesapeake in 2008 and she will be 3 years old tomorrow!

Spirit and Maya were also born here at the Aquarium in 2001, and this is the first year they produced calves. In late June, we shared the sad news of the loss of these two dolphin calves. The loss of the calves proved to be upsetting and stressful not only for the staff, but also for the dolphins themselves.

From years of working with these animals, we know that dolphins are very social animals. When something of this nature disrupts the group, the animals get upset. In this case, the moms were distressed, which in turn created stress in the entire colony. Social changes can be very upsetting for every dolphin in the group.

The health and welfare of all of our animals is of first importance. In the weeks following the loss of the calves, staff decided that the best thing to do for the dolphins was to discontinue shows and other programs until our Animal Health team and trainers are satisfied that normal social behaviors have returned.

Continue reading ‘Checking in with the dolphins’

Becoming dolphin moms

In the spring of 2001, the National Aquarium welcomed two dolphin calves into our dolphin family. Both Maya and Spirit were raised here at the Aquarium by their mothers, and have grown to become very strong female dolphins! They are now entering into the next phase of life: motherhood.

Maya and Spirit both became pregnant last year, and through medical examinations it was determined they would give birth in spring 2011, exactly 10 years after they were born.

Dolphin pregnancies and births are always exciting, but also require a great deal of work from our staff and volunteers. For the last year, our dolphin trainers, animal health staff, and volunteers have been working around the clock to ensure the best possible outcomes for the mothers and calves.

Regular ultrasound exams and daily observations became part of the staff’s daily routine. You may be wondering… how exactly did our animal health staff perform ultrasounds on animals that weigh more than 300 pounds? Well, both females are trained to come to the edge of the pool, position themselves on their sides, and remain stable and calm while the veterinarian performs the examination. This helped the staff monitor the development of the calves.

Vet exam

In the weeks leading up to the impending births, a team of staff and volunteers implemented a 24-hour watch to monitor the mothers for signs of labor and keep a close watch on their behaviors and overall health.

Now, after months of prenatal care by a dedicated team of vets, trainers, and volunteers, Maya and Spirit are swimming alongside their new calves!

On April 14, Spirit gave birth to a female calf…

Spirit and her calf

Spirit and her calf

and Maya followed two weeks later, with an April 27 delivery of a male calf.

Maya and Her Calf

Maya and her calf

It is certainly an exciting time in the dolphin pools, but our work does not stop here. Dolphin calves are extremely fragile in their first months of life, and even though their survival ultimately depends on their mothers’ care, we do everything we can to provide the right habitat conditions, nutritional needs, and care for the mothers and their calves.

Upon birth, calves must immediately learn how to breathe, swim, and nurse from their mothers. A quiet environment gives the moms and calves the best opportunity to bond in this way, so the amphitheater closed for a short time immediately following births.

Swimming Together

Swimming together as a group

In the past, we’ve been able to resume the dolphin shows in the front exhibit pool just a week or two after a dolphin birth, with moms and calves continuing to bond in the back pools. But because first-time mothers Maya and Spirit are still adjusting to their new roles, we have had to make changes to our normal dolphin presentation.

We are currently inviting visitors in for a quieter experience, but one that is equally fascinating! Through June 7, visitors who purchase the Dolphin Access Package will get an interactive, close-up experience that includes a meet and greet with our trainers, a rare opportunity to observe a dolphin training session, and a first look at a behind-the-scenes video of the new calves. And visitors may be able to catch a glimpse of the calves swimming alongside their mothers in the back pools when they surface to breathe.

As marine mammal trainers and veterinarians become more and more confident that the moms have had ample time to bond with their calves, we will gradually introduce more programming into the dolphin experience.

Spirit's Calf at 1 Month

Spirit's calf is becoming more curious and independent every day!

Staff and volunteers continue to monitor the mothers’ and calves’ behaviors closely. We use PalmPilots to track behavior observations and changes to eating patterns.

We thank you for joining us in celebrating the births! You can read more about our new moms and calves and watch a video on The Baltimore Sun.

Coming together for clean water

“We live on a watery world full of mystery and life! Our vast oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, reaching depths of several miles. Water, our most precious commodity…necessary to all…is our common bond.”

If you have been to our Aquarium recently, these words probably sound familiar to you. It’s the opening statement of our dolphin show, Our Ocean Planet. The introduction goes on to describe the underwater world in which dolphins live, a vast world that we humans barely know. The music begins to build, and just before the trainers come out to introduce the dolphins, guests are left with this thought: “The water they swim in, the ground we walk on, we call it Earth, but this is truly Our Ocean Planet.”

The opening statement of our show is very thought-provoking. If water is the one thing that connects every living being, and a necessity for our own human life, then why do we know so little about it, and continue to pollute the very thing that keeps us alive and healthy?

Today, we’re joining thousands of bloggers from around the world for Blog Action Day to talk about the issues surrounding water.

When we started this blog a few years ago, we chose to name it Waterlog because as an Aquarium, we have a lot to talk about when it comes to water!

But today, as we come together to talk about the issues surrounding clean water, we’d like to keep it simple. We have more than 16,000 animals that call the National Aquarium home, and if you think about it, these animals may be considered the lucky ones. They are given clean water to live in every day. Clean water and healthy habitats. And their only job is to help inspire us humans to enjoy, respect and protect the aquatic world so they don’t become a living reminder of what once was.

Not all animals and humans around the world are able to enjoy clean water. Our dolphin show is just one example of how we are helping people understand the importance of clean water. Through all of our exhibits, education programs and conservation efforts, we are helping people connect to water and understand its importance in this world.

We hope that if you have visited an Aquarium recently, you left understanding that everyone has to do their part to keep our water clean. As we begin the celebration of our 30th anniversary, we are excited about our future in conservation education and action. Take a look at how water has played a role in our past 30 years, and how our watery world is growing:

Counting dolphins

It’s the annual dolphin count! Tomorrow, July 16, members of the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program will be along the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, counting dolphins. Staff and volunteers will spend a few hours on the beach watching the water for passing dolphins and filling out data sheets.  Teams will be stationed on the beaches at 40th Street and 130th Street and at Assateague State Park. There will also be a vessel-based team aboard an Ocean City Coast Guard boat.

Why are we counting dolphins? Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists gather long-term information 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.  Looking at population numbers over the years can help to determine the health of the coastal ecosystem, as well as the abundance of prey. With your help, 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.

There are two ways to join in the fun: 1. Find us on the beach! If you are in the Ocean City area tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon, look for our Aquarium teams in blue at 40th Street and 130th Street. Bring your binoculars and help us count dolphins. 2. Enter our dolphin count contest! Think you know how many dolphins we will spot tomorrow? Text “count” and your guess to 30644 and you could win a pair of tickets to the Aquarium. (Msg and data rates apply.) The contest will end at 1 p.m. ET on Friday. The official count and winners will be announced here, so please check back.

Good luck and happy counting!

Faster than Phelps?

The National Aquarium has prepared a short video congratulations message for Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff!

Do you think Michael Phelps could beat our dolphins in a race?

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