Wednesday, December 28, 2005

First dolphin conceived with frozen sperm in Japan...died in Tokyo!

Japan's first dolphin conceived from frozen sperm died at an aquarium outside of Tokyo, keepers said.

Will, a 2.3-metre, 170-kg bottle-nosed dolphin conceived by artificial insemination and born in September last year, died early Tuesday, Kamogawa Sea World said in a statement.

"We're all overcome by grief," said Kazutoshi Arai, a spokesman for the aquarium, in Chiba prefecture (state).

Keepers transferred Will to a special treatment pool last week with his mother, Norma, after the young dolphin suddenly stopped eating, according to the statement.

Preliminary autopsy results suggested Will suffered from volvulus, or an abnormal twisting of the intestines, the aquarium said.

Scientists have been trying to improve insemination methods in an attempt to reduce inbreeding in captivity and preserve endangered dolphin species. It is unclear whether Will's death had anything to do with the method of his conception.

The world's first artificially conceived dolphins were born in 2001 in Hong Kong.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bottlenose Calf rescued!

A baby dolphin is at Gulf World in Panama City Beach undergoing health checks.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says a fisherman found the dolphin alive and contacted authorities.

Wildlife officials were able to administer first aid to the dolphin on a sand bar in North Bay. Meanwhile, the Gulf World Marine Park stranding team was rushing to the rescue.
The dolphin is a male Bottle Nosed Dolphin, about four months old and weighs about 85 pounds.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fishermen use dolphin meat as bait for sharks

INDONESIANS fishing illegally off northern Australia have been using dolphin meat to bait shark, according to Aboriginal sea rangers.

Customs officers this month arrested the crew of an Indonesian fishing boat spotted at Junction Bay, west of Maningrida in the Northern Territory. The boat, with a crew of seven, was hidden behind mangroves to escape detection by customs.

Gavin Enever, a co-ordinator of the Bawaninga Djelk sea rangers, said the fishermen were using dolphin flesh as bait to catch shark. "We pulled up several hooks with dolphin meat in them," he said. "We also recovered 18 sharks and 30 other hooks baited with dolphin meat."

Dolphins are protected by law and killing them can result in penalties, including a $110,000 fine and up to two years' jail. The practice has been used by illegal fishermen in the past, but only 10 have been reported and prosecuted in the past decade.

Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald said customs officials reported no evidence of dolphin meat on the boat. "I'm concerned about any of slaughter of dolphins whether it be for shark bait or anything else," he said. "If the rangers have photos that clearly show they (fishermen) did use dolphins as bait, it should be referred to customs because it is a serious additional offence."

Mr Enever said the rangers were certain it was dolphin meat, and they were concerned it may be used commonly as bait. "They suspect this could be a practice they (illegal fishermen) are adopting, and if that is the case, there will be a lot of angry citizens in Maningrida," he said.

Maningrida sea rangers, based 500 kilometres east of Darwin, regularly patrol the Arnhem Land coast by air, and have spotted 17 boats since April, leading to six arrests.

Mr Enever said more arrests could have been made if the Federal Government funded the rangers and provided them with equipment and communications devices to liaise with customs officers. "Last Thursday was a well co-ordinated exercise and shows how much value the sea rangers can add to protecting Australia's coastline," he said.

Senator Macdonald said he would meet the Maningrida sea rangers in the new year and consider a proposal from them.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society spokeswoman Margi Prideaux said the Government needed to take the issue seriously and increase patrols.

World Wildlife Fund oceans program leader Gilly Llewellyn said the use of dolphin meat to bait shark was "just another worrying symptom of the growing problem of illegal fishing".

Breeding center to be set up to protect rare dolphin from extinction

Xiamen in east China's Fujian Province is planning to set up an artificial breeding base of the Chinese white dolphin to further protect the rare species.

The city will set aside a sea area for Chinese white dolphins to live and breed, after drawing on experiences from Singapore and Thailand, said Zheng Maoshi, deputy director of the municipal bureau of fishery.

It will be the first artificial breeding base of the Chinese White Dolphin in China.

An international seminar will be held in Xiamen, with biologists from countries including the United States and Italy in attendance, to discuss the protection of Chinese white dolphins, according to Zheng.

Local authorities have designated a protected sea area where white dolphins live and drive them to safe areas if anything threatens them.

In the breeding base to be built, where dolphins will live, scientists will help them to produce offspring there.

Sometimes called "the pandas of the ocean" for their rarity, the Chinese White Dolphin is a species unique to China and high on China's most-protected animal list. It is also the most endangered dolphin species in the world.

Records show that there are only about 1,000 white dolphins at the Pearl River Estuary and over 100 in the coastal areas of Xiamen.

In 1999, south China's Guangdong Province set aside 460 square km of water area in the South China Sea as a nature reserve for the dolphins.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dolphins have been rescued

FIVE striped dolphins were rescued last Thursday after stranding themselves on a Dunsborough beach.

Three of the dolphins became stranded late Wednesday and were encouraged to deeper water but returned overnight with another two.

On Wednesday night CALM officers and volunteers transported the animals by boat about 8km offshore for release after attempts to move them to a deeper section of the beach were not successful.

Their return to the beach on Thursday was reported about 6am.

On Thursday morning South West CALM officers transported the five dolphins in a Naturaliste Marine Rescue boat to deep water to the west of Cape Naturaliste for release.

CALM Blackwood district manager Greg Mair said one of the dolphins had some injuries but all were successfully released.

"Striped dolphins can be temperamental to handle and have a tendency to thrash violently and occasionally stress quickly to the point of death, so it is quite a relief that these dolphins were conveyed to deeper water without further trauma," he said.

"They were checked by a veterinarian to ensure they were well enough to be transported by boat before release."

The last stranding of striped dolphins in the area was a stranding of 24 in Augusta in 1989.

Winter storm responsible for whales and dolphins deaths

Biologists now believe last week’s winter storm took a terrible toll on wildlife. At least nine whales and 24 dolphins died after they got stranded on the Cape Cod shoreline.Scientists are now studying the carcasses to learn more about how the animals died. They suspect the dophins and whales got stuck in shallow water during high winds and changing tides.

Dolphins sites to save these marine mammals

Alarmed by a rapid decline in the population of dolphins, Bihar plans to develop special sites along the Ganges river to protect them. Officials identified pollution and poaching as major factors behind the fall in the number of river dolphins. The rapidly shrinking Ganges and the river's changing course were also threatening the dolphins, they said.

RK Sinha, who heads the central government's dolphin conservation project, warned the dolphins would disappear unless urgent steps were taken to clean up the Ganges. Bashir Ahmad Khan, Bihar's principal chief conservator of forest, said the dolphin protection sites to be set up under a central government conservation programme would also become tourist attractions.

Bihar's departments of forest and environment and tourism had started identifying such sites. "We will soon send a proposal to the central forest and environment department for approval as well as for funds," Khan told IANS. According to researchers, India's river dolphin population is estimated to be a little over 1,500.

Half of these are found in the Ganges in Bihar but their numbers have dropped drastically over the past few decades. The dolphins are often killed for their skin and oil. Fishermen also kill them to use their fat to prepare fish bait.

Untreated sewage, rotting carcasses and industrial effluents that find their way into the Ganges during its 2,500-km journey across several states from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal have also affected the dolphins. In the 1980s, the Gangetic delta zone alone had around 3,500 dolphins. Nearly a decade ago a dolphin sanctuary was set up on the Ganges at Kahalgaon near Bhagalpur.

This is Asia's only fresh water dolphin sanctuary, spread over an area of 50 km. In 1996, freshwater dolphins were categorised as endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), a forum of conservationists, NGOs and government agencies. Despite an order issued by the Patna High Court in 2001 that asked the state government to check poaching, three dolphins were reportedly killed last year.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Could dolphin be the result of a scientific success?

SeaWorld's newest baby dolphin could be a scientific breakthrough.
The Atlantic bottlenose is the first creature in a zoological park successfully bred for a specific sex, SeaWorld officials announced yesterday.

SeaWorld scientists bred this female dolphin by using sperm processed by a Colorado company with patented technology in sex-selection techniques for animals. Animal reproduction experts with Busch Entertainment Corp., the owner of SeaWorld, accomplished the feat by using sperm processed to maximize the chances of getting a female dolphin.

If they and other scientists can repeat the outcome, their sex-selection methods may help thousands of zoological institutions worldwide to better manage the male-to-female ratio of their animal collections. The technology could also aid efforts to save threatened and endangered species.

"We want to be leaders in the responsible management of species" in zoological parks such as zoos, aquariums and theme parks, said Justine O'Brien, a member of the SeaWorld team that produced the female dolphin.

In October 2004, O'Brien and fellow SeaWorld scientist Todd Robeck artificially inseminated a bottlenose dolphin named Sandy. They used sperm processed by a special machine that selected cells with the female-producing X chromosome.

The cells were sorted by XY Inc. of Fort Collins, Colo., which specializes in sex-selection techniques for animals. The company has a patented technology that it developed with Colorado State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Oct. 6, Sandy delivered the baby, which weighed 40 pounds and measured nearly 4 feet long. The calf has not been named.

SeaWorld did not immediately examine the baby to determine its sex because that would have disrupted the crucial mother-calf bonding process, said curator Bill Hoffman. After two months of waiting, veterinarians were able to visually confirm that the calf is a female, he said.

During the experiment, which involved artificially inseminating three female dolphins, the scientists determined that it was optimal to give Sandy 350 million sperm cells. The other two dolphins received different doses of sperm and did not become pregnant.

The biologists also had to figure out how to keep dolphin sperm alive in liquid form and how to freeze it for transport and later use.

The Busch and SeaWorld experts will try to duplicate the sex-selection process next spring, O'Brien said.

Being able to choose an offspring's sex is significant, he said. By balancing the male-to-female ratio of their animal collections, zoological parks can produce social groupings similar to those in the wild.

For instance, breeding among wild horses requires just one dominant stallion for several females. To duplicate this composition in a zoo setting, scientists would breed more females than males.
Dolphins, elephants and several other species that reproduce naturally in captivity at zoological parks tend to produce more male babies, said Barbara Durrant, head of reproductive physiology at the Conservation and Research for Endangered Species center in San Diego.

The leading theory for this sex disparity is that high-nutrition diets provided by zoological institutions trigger more male offspring, she said. For example, laboratory experiments have found that mice fed high-quality diets produce more male than female babies.

First dolphin research boat...practical to get data

It has been a long and difficult way, but finally success is within reach: the first dolphin research boat in Mozambique! Although the Save Our Seas (SOS) Foundation, Geneva, provided the funds already some time ago (as reported), the red tape proved to be an insurmountable hurdle in acquiring a double-engine inflatable from South Africa.

Our partner’s persistent attempts to obtain an exemption from the high import duties failed, so that – in agreement with GRD and SOS – they decided to go a different way and have a double-hull boat driven by two 40 PS outboard engines built in Maputo. While the money thus remained in Mozambique rather than going to South Africa, this solution turned out to be more expensive and did not leave enough money for the two engines.

SOS and GRD therefore decided to help with the remaining costs. 3000 euro, which were collected in the campaign “Bears fight for Dolphins” in cooperation with the German gummi bears company “Baeren-Treff”, were also used for the purchase of the outboard engines.In the past season, Almeida Guissamulo and his team from Maputo University collected some interesting data about the humpback dolphins living in the waters of Inhaca island (Bay of Maputo).

The animals were mainly sighted in the summer, from December through April. Preferring the shallow waters and tideways off the island’s west coast, they were rarely seen in the mangrove forests or near the two offshore coral reefs. As before, there were no sightings in winter because boat surveys are hardly possible during this unstable season. The offshore regions near Inhaca have not been the subject of any research until now.

This will change now that the new boat is in operation.The data base now holds dorsal fin images of 23 individually identified humpback dolphins. Fourteen animals were known from previous years, while nine more animals were added in 2005. The good news is that over five percent of the observed dolphins were babies and over 33 percent juveniles, thus making this population quite vital. However, their number is relatively low and therefore this population is still endangered.

On the basis of the existing data, Almeida Guissamulo assumes that about 57 humpback dolphins stay year round in the waters of Inhaca. Most interesting also are the strong family ties of this rarely studied dolphin species: most families remain together over long periods of time without any substantial changes in composition.We hope to expand the project next year, not only because of the new boat.

We want to intensify the important activities for raising awareness among locals, a great majority of whom live from the sea, launch small projects for the sale of souvenirs and sustainable dolphin-watching tourism, and promote the establishment of protected areas for dolphins. Our partners in Mozambique depend on us, without our help they will not be able to save “their” dolphins. We want to give hope to the people in Mozambique, showing them that we will not leave them alone in their efforts to conserve nature and rebuild their country.

Ulrich KarlowskiWe are pleased to thank the following institutions which have provided significant support to our project in Mozambique: Baeren-Treff and its founders Mr. and Mrs. Mohr, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, Zoo Duisburg AG, Save Our Seas Foundation and all other donors. Without them there would be no project to save the endangered humpback dolphins in Mozambique.You can help! Donations indicating “humpback dolphins” will be strictly allocated to this project.

Dolphin meat suspectedly used as bait on fishing boat

There are suspicions that an Indonesian boat caught off the Northern Territory coast could have been using dolphin meat as bait.

The boat was caught late last night in Junction Bay, 50 kilometres west of Maningrida.
Ian Munroe from the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation says sea rangers believe meat found on the fishing lines was dolphin.

"The rangers have described a meat with a layer of blubber and red flesh underneath it," he said.
Simon Latimer from Customs says he cannot confirm that.

"There has been situations where we have found foreign fishing boats that have been using dolphin for bait but I certainly couldn't comment on this situation until further information became available," he said.

Tissue samples will be sent to Darwin for formal identification.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dolphin's toxin studied to cure drug addiction

Someday, dolphin toxin may be used to treat drug addiction.

Research conducted by a team of the Third Institute of Oceanography of State Oceanic Administration said it has begun research on the toxin, and it's using RMB 600,000 (USD 75,000) in government funds for the project, the Southeast Express newspaper reported.

The dolphin toxin has quick efficacy in detoxification, producing few side effects. The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2006, and will produce at least one patent, the report said.
The Third Institute of Oceanography has set up midtest production line for annual production of 50g high purity dolphin toxin (over 99% purity). The institute will provide 200g of dolphin toxin in 2006, which can be used to produce 20 mln ampules for injections.

Bottlenose dolphin rescued

A young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin stranded in the Pearl River here for three months following Hurricane Katrina was safely rescued and returned to his saltwater home Nov. 30 in a multi-agency effort initiated by the Navy Fleet Survey Team (FST) at the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC).The five-foot-long male dolphin that apparently washed upriver from the Gulf of Mexico Aug. 29 was first spotted by Lt. James Coleman of the FST, a subordinate command of the Naval Oceanographic Office at SSC.

Coleman initially found the dolphin while conducting hydrographic surveys up the river in early October. "I began seeing it regularly in the river near Stennis," he said. "Apparently, it had been there since the hurricane."Coleman continued to follow the animal’s whereabouts and contacted the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service. He then served as the point of contact at SSC for federal agencies involved in the rescue."Lt. Coleman kept a close watch on the displaced dolphin and started the ball rolling for this rescue," said Cmdr. Todd Monroe, commanding officer of the FST.Marine mammal experts from several states traveled to Mississippi to help rescue the dolphin about 10 miles upriver from the Gulf of Mexico.

They included representatives from the Fisheries Service and the National Ocean Service, both NOAA agencies. A 16-member team accomplished the three-hour rescue effort with three boats and a 400-foot net that was spread in the river. Once the dolphin became ensnared in the net, it was rolled onto a Navy boat piloted by Lt. j.g. David Colbert of the FST. Rescuers then gingerly snipped the net off the dolphin and began transport procedures.

The dolphin was wrapped in protective covering, placed on a foam mattress in a van and successfully released into the Mississippi Sound at Gulfport Harbor.Blair Mase, southeast regional marine mammal stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Service, said dolphins can only tolerate fresh water for a limited period. "It was imperative that we rescue this dolphin and return it to its natural habitat," Mase said.The dolphin had suffered skin lesions after being out of its natural saltwater habitat for an extended period.

Had it remained in fresh water much longer, the lesions and eye problems could have endangered its life, experts said."Aside from the lesions, he appears in good health," said Forrest Townsend, a marine mammal veterinarian who participated in the rescue. "The FST’s normal duties include deploying worldwide to conduct shallow-water surveys supporting Department of Defense warfighters," Monroe said, "but we were happy to be of assistance with the rescue. Like many of us on the Gulf Coast, our dolphin is recovering from Hurricane Katrina and is moving forward."

Bottlenose dolphin proves the importance of language

AS EVERY dolphin knows, it's good to talk. But what their human admirers are only now realising is how fast, sophisticated and essential for survival dolphin lingo is.

New scientific research has pinpointed how the much-loved mammals speedily relay complex messages between many members of their own "school" in a bid to find food or avoid predators - often across many miles of water.

The research was carried out among the 130-strong bottlenose dolphin colony living in the Moray Firth on the east coast of Scotland by a team from Aberdeen University.

They believe that despite the distances involved when dolphins split up to forage for food, highly developed communications networks mean it only takes an average of 3.9 "contacts" for any two animals to form a link over danger or where to find a meal. This "small world" network in the Moray Firth means information about new food sources and any predators can be quickly spread, helping the animals to survive and prosper.

The research team believes the findings help to explain why language has developed in other species, including humans, who also had to split up from their core group for hunting expeditions.
The scientists, whose work is published in the current edition of the Journal of Animal Ecology, discovered that all dolphins have preferred companions, although they spend long periods surrounded mainly by what appear to be more casual acquaintances.

Survival of those preferred companions depends on constant networking and rapid communications between separated groups.

Research team spokesman Dr David Lusseau said: "Three-quarters of the members of a school will not spend much time together - typically less than a day at a time.

"Therefore individual dolphins will often join others that come from other schools. This means knowledge about food location could quickly spread throughout the whole population just by 'word-of-mouth'."

Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most vocal animals in the world, producing two types of sound, whistles and very short- duration clicks at varying rates. The clicks are used for both communication and echo location, and the whistles mainly for communication alone.

Research on captive mammals has found that more than 90% of whistles are individual and specific to certain situations. When food is involved, speed of communication is vital, as competitors are not likely to be far away.

"Competition is going to put a premium on communication," Lusseau said. "Networking and language go hand in hand. This highly effective system where one can be first with the news is essential to survival."

Lusseau believes the small-world nature of dolphin society may come from evolution, which favours the efficient transfer of information. He contends his dolphin research can help explain the evolution of language among other species.

His next step is to lead a study into 10 animal populations worldwideto establish the roots of speech.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

New dolphin program worth a good look

OVER the next few years, Bayworld’s dolphin programme looks set to be transformed under the expert eye of newly appointed marine mammologist Dr Stephanie Plön.

She is on a three-year contract, funded from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s R3-million grant for the dolphin programme.

Plön, 35, who was born and schooled in Germany but studied in Wales, South Africa and New Zealand, is an expert on the biology of pygmy and dwarf sperm whales, but her research includes the life histories and conservation genetics of all whales and dolphins.

In collaboration with other scientists both here and overseas, Plön’s role is to establish a sound scientific platform for the future dolphin programme.

She will also advise on captive breeding, including artificial insemination, and the compatibility between different dolphin species.

“Bayworld only has two dolphins (Domino and Dumisa), but dolphins are social animals. To create a healthy environment, we need to have a healthy group,” she said.

Plön has also been tasked with assessing Bayworld’s extensive marine mammal collection, which consists of preserved animals and tissue, bones and teeth. It is believed to be one of the largest such collections in the world.

She will also be starting her own research programme on the rich marine mammal fauna off the Eastern Cape coast.

The self-professed “water baby” was first introduced to the museum complex as an honours student from the University of Wales (Swansea) working on a three-month research project on the rare mass stranding of common dolphins along the wild coast under Dr Vic Cockcroft, who left the complex in 1998.

“I always wanted this job, but I never dreamed of having it,” said Plön.

She returned to South Africa to complete a master’s degree at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, specialising in pygmy and dwarf sperm whales. “South Africa has the second highest stranding rate in the world (after the US) for both species.”

Plön said the last research on the basic biology (which includes age, diet and reproductive habits) of the two species had been carried out by Cockcroft’s predecessor, Dr Graham Ross, in 1979.
Her master’s research, which won her awards at European Cetacean Society conferences in 1997 and 1999, was so vast that it was upgraded to a PhD degree, and Plön accepted an invitation to complete part of her degree in a specialised genetics laboratory at New Zealand’s University of Auckland.

After obtaining her doctorate in zoology from Rhodes University this year, she worked as a research manager and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Auckland before returning to the Eastern Cape.

Adopt-a-dolphin is a wonderful Christmas gift idea

SISTERS Matilda and Ashley Warren-Smith want Santa to make a splash this Christmas by giving them a dolphin.Like the animals they believe most divine, the girls love frolicking in Port Phillip Bay and want a dolphin to call their own.

By joining the Adopt-A-Dolphin scheme, the girls' dream can be realised by Santa while helping the Port Phillip Bay mammals.

The girls will receive an adoption certificate and membership pack, while knowing they are supporting dolphin research and conservation for the year to come.

Sponsorship at $69 includes a $49 tax-deductible donation and $20 GST and membership fee.
Call 1300 130 949 or email

Solomon Islands ban exportation of dolphins

Solomon Islands government has banned the export of dolphins from the country.

Solomon Islands Broadcasting reports this follows the publication of the Gazette of the Fisheries Prohibition of Export of Dolphins Regulations 2005.

The Regulation prohibits the export of all types dolphins.

The Regulation says any person who contravenes the new law shall be guilty of an offence and shall be fined not less than SBD$1,000 (USD$136) or imprisonment of six months or both.

Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Mathias Taro signed the new fisheries regulation on 24 November.

Young dolphin rescued in shallow water

TWO fishermen at Stuarts Point rescued a young dolphin on Tuesday after it became stuck on a sand bar during low tide.

Grahame Bruton and Doug Fabian had just emerged from their camp at Stuarts Point Holiday Park when they noticed something thrashing about in the river opposite their camp.

Mr Bruton said at first they thought it was an adult dolphin signalling to other dolphins its position in the river.

"It was about 6.30am and the tide was about three quarters," he said.

"We had just made a cup of tea when we saw the thrashing about 50m north of the bridge.

"It was a baby dolphin about four feet (1.2m) long and it was stranded about three to four metres from deeper water.

"When we got up there it was making a little noise like a whistle, like a baby pigeon.

"Doug got under it and we just pulled it into deeper water and then it just took off. And just as we were pushing it into the water it gave a little squeak of thank you."

Mr Bruton said he and his wife Kathy had been visiting Stuarts Point for over 30 years.
"This is the first time I have seen a dolphin out of the water," he said.

"And we see them come up the river every day."

Mr Bruton said he and a group of friends had visited the park in February this year and noticed how shallow the river had become at low tide.

"And now it's shallower again. It's getting hard to know where to steer the boat," he said.

"I have noticed that the silting up of the river has become quicker over the last 10 or 12 years.

"It's not bad enough to stop us from coming but if it silted right up you would not come."

The section of the Macleay River fronting the Holiday Park is known as The Arm and once led to the river's original ocean entrance at Grassy Head.

The river has been filling up with sand, raising concerns about boating and future tourism.

Touching experience with dolphins

Hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, in the middle of all this corn and soybeans, you can drive down Interstate 65 and interact with one of the most fascinating of all sea creatures.
Dolphin In-Water Adventure started this past September at the Indianapolis Zoo. Nine Atlantic bottlenose dolphins reside there and are used in the 90-minute classroom and hands-on experience.

The creatures seem incurably happy and eager to show their skills to wide-eyed humans who don wet suits and climb into waist-deep water for the educational experience.

In the wild, bottlenose dolphins live in pods of up to 12 whales and are very social. Sometimes pods form congregations numbering in the hundreds. Dolphins can dive down to more than 1,000 feet and can jump up to 20 feet out of the water.

Emily Akard turned 15 in August. Her father, Jeff, made this birthday one that the Frankfort High School freshman will never forget.

"It was perfect," Emily said.

As long as she can remember she's wanted to be a marine biologist, and the experience certainly helped deepen that feeling, she said.

"I was surprised how they paid attention and the tricks they could do," Emily said.

Participants are taught hand commands, and the dolphins respond, seemingly smiling the whole time.

The adventure costs a zoo member $150 to participate, $15 to observe; nonmembers pay $175 and $25.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"