Florida Guide > Other Activities
Be a dolphin trainer for a day
At Discovery Cove you can spend a day with a dolphin trainer, and get involved yourself in how they train these magnificent creatures. You will be able to ask all the questions you like, and find out what it is like to work with dolphins.
Training a dolphin does take a lot of time and patience. Although they are very intelligent creatures, but do not actually understand English, so every trick they perform has had to be taught to them from the beginning patiently and painstakingly. Find out how the trainers start with the dolphins by discovering what particular reward the dolphin likes to receive. Most dolphins love fish as a reward but some enjoy being squirted with a water hose, or eating ice, or having their back or sides rubbed. Once the trainers have established what the dolphin likes best, they can reward it every time it does something that they are encouraging it to do.
The dolphins learn that if they do a particular thing they will be rewarded for it, and once the dolphin has understood this, the trainer can begin to teach it tricks. This slow process has to be done in small steps. You can’t just tell a dolphin to jump through a hoop and then give it a fish at the end. Usually the dolphin is taught to touch a hand, or a target. When it can do that the target is moved slightly higher, or further away and so on and so on. Eventually after some time and plenty of rewards the dolphin can do the trick. Whatever trick is being taught, it is the same basic process: small steps and plenty of rewards.
You will learn that dolphins have a wide variety of tricks that they can do. They can leap, or dive, or swim on their sides, or wave a flipper in the air, or pull someone through the water. Each trick has been carefully taught but also each trick has a different signal. As I said before, dolphins don’t actually understand language, but they can understand to associate certain sounds or hand signals with particular movements, so the trainers have to develop a range of signals which they can give to the dolphins to get them to perform a certain learned movement.
As well as spending time learning how to be a dolphin trainer, you will be shown behind the scenes of the dolphin area at Discovery Cove. You will see where they prepare the food and where the dolphins live and play when they are not working with guests.
As part of your day you will also have access to the lagoons full of spectacular fish and the aviary. At the end of it all you will have a souvenir T shirt and some wonderful memories.
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Page added on: 11 February 2008
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