Last updated: 02:45 PM ET, Mon July 20 2015

Opinion Home | Dolphin Discovery, Home of the Most Loved Dolphins

  • Addy Gamboa | July 20, 2015 2:45 PM ET

    The Best Job in the World

    The Best Job in the World

    During one of my visits to a Dolphin Discovery dolphinarium in Riviera Maya, I had the chance to talk to one of our marine mammal specialists or dolphin trainers, as they are usually known. 

    Alejandro Mata is a marine biologist with 15 years of experience and 10 years working at Dolphin Discovery. As much as it might be a cliché, his true passion is dolphins. You can hear him talk endlessly about calves, fascinating facts about the species, new discoveries, investigations and, particularly, about Athos and Shadia, the dolphins assigned to him. His eyes really lighten up whenever he talks about them. 

    Sitting on the Dolphin Discovery Puerto Aventuras’ restaurant Palapa Manatee, our conversation started with Alex talking about a guard he made two nights ago. Shadia is pregnant and about to give birth. Dolphins in her condition are watched over 24 hours a day, right before labor and after it. Calves are also monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week during their first two months. He was tired but mostly excited and anxious as the last ultrasound showed that the baby dolphin should be born in no more than a couple of days.

    While waiting for the moment, marine mammal specialists check the mother’s breath frequently, give her a special diet and pamper her a lot. After the baby dolphin is born, marine mammal specialists pay close attention to lactation, breath and the distance between mom and baby when they swim; the baby should learn to be independent. 

    On the other hand, Porthos is evolving normally and in excellent conditions, as Alex describes it. As every other dolphin in Dolphin Discovery’s dolphinariums, he gets a Daily Physical Evaluation (DPE) and a controlled diet, according to his specific needs. The diet and weight of dolphins are monitored daily by the resident veterinarian and the marine mammal specialists to ensure optimum health. 

    Alex told me that he is really pleased as Porthos has adopted a new toy and is developing new skills. Marine mammal specialists build and create toys for dolphins. Dolphins are especially curious and certainly very smart. Alex made a jelly fish out of hard strips for Porthos, which he picks up and shakes in the air before throwing it away to the sea and swimming to get it again. Enrichment is a very important part of a dolphin’s day.

    At Dolphin Discovery, dolphins are trained with a technique known as positive reinforcement. This means that after every correct behavior they are rewarded with toys, petting or food. This innovative educational system was created by one of Dolphin Discovery’s founders and it is called ABC Animal Training. 

    Listening to Alex talk about his two dolphin friends lets me know that marine mammal specialists create a unique bond with dolphins; they know every little detail about their dolphins, care for them, play along and cooperate with them when it is time for an interactive program. He described watching these mammals grow physically and mentally as the highlight of his day. He told me that the key to training a dolphin is to create an unconditional bond of love, trust and respect.

    “It must go both ways,” he said. “If you manage to gain the confidence and love of a dolphin, you will experience an incredible sensation. Being a marine mammal specialist is pure satisfaction, it is truly the best job in the world." 

    Our interesting chat was interrupted by the end of Alex’s break of the day but he promised to tell me more about Shadia and Porthos next time we meet. 


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Addy Gamboa Dolphin Discovery, Home of the Most Loved Dolphins

Addy Gamboa Addy Gamboa is Corporate Marketing Manager of Dolphin Discovery, the biggest Dolphin Company in the world and the largest Park operator in Latin America. She is in charge of marketing strategies, publicity and branding of the company’s 16 dolphinariums, located in 6 different countries, along with 5 other brands of Dolphin Discovery Group.
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