From Kerry Martens, Dolphin Trainer
Earlier this week we announced the pregnancy of Jade, one of our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. This is a very exciting but busy time for the marine mammal staff. About a month before the expected due date, our staff and a group of trained volunteers begin 24/7 monitoring of the pregnant female for signs of labor.
Around-the-clock observations of Jade began February 12 and will continue for an additional month after the calf is born.
Observations are conducted from “the pit,” located in the middle of our pools. After a short climb down a ladder, the area, with room for only two chairs, has windows looking into all three pools. Being comfortable with small spaces is a must!
Observers use hand-held palm pilots in order to record target behaviors as they see them. We look for a variety of things with Jade. We record which of the other animals she spends time with, signs of belly movement and, most importantly, arches and crunches actions. Arches and crunches are pronounced, deliberate stretches that increase in frequency the closer we get to birth.