Self-Development – Independent Learning

Have you ever started to work in a Dolphinarium and seen others busy moving around doing different tasks and you don’t have any idea of what you should or could be doing?
How many times have wanted to learn or be given the opportunity to work hands on with the animals, but because of your lack experience you have been placed at the back of the line, waiting for your time to come?
When new staff start working in a Dolphinarium they must wait until management decides who they choose to work directly with the animals…and you could just be waiting and waiting.
What if I tell you, you can learn everything you need to know, even before you step into a Dolphinarium!
Imagine going straight in with the confidence and understanding, getting familiar with everything you need to know, including the training jargon trainers use to communicate with each other.
You don’t have to wait until someone teaches you the basics of what trainers are doing at any given time, or know what they need to do next.
Now you don’t have to wait or risk limited training you may access anywhere else.
With our self-educating courses, you can be a step ahead and be able to develop to your fullest potential.
You now can learn step by step what they may not teach you on the job or on the internet… the secrets, tricks and different techniques of marine mammal training.
For more information contact


Endocrine disruptions found in bottle nose dolphins

Bottlenose dolphins are being exposed to chemical compounds added to many common cleaning products, cosmetics, personal care products and plastics, according to a new study in GeoHealth, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The new research found evidence of exposure to these chemical compounds, called phthalates, in 71 percent of dolphins tested in Sarasota Bay, Florida during 2016 and 2017. Previous studies detected phthalate metabolites in the blubber or skin of a few individual marine mammals, but the new study is the first to document the additives in the urine of wild marine mammals.

Some phthalates have been linked to hormonal, metabolic and reproductive problems in humans, including low sperm count and abnormal development of reproductive organs. The study’s authors do not know what health impacts phthalate compounds may have on dolphins, but the presence of byproducts of the chemicals in the animals’ urine indicates they have remained in the body long enough to process them.

“We focused on urine in dolphins because, in previous studies of humans, that has been the most reliable matrix to indicate short-term exposure.” said Leslie Hart, a public health professor at the College of Charleston and the lead author of the new study.

Studies have linked human exposure to phthalates with use of products containing these additives, such as personal care products and cosmetics, but Hart said the source of dolphin exposure to phthalates is not yet known. Elevated concentrations in dolphin urine of a specific phthalate compound most commonly added to plastics hinted at plastic waste as a possible source of exposure for the dolphins, she said.

“These chemicals can enter marine waters from urban runoff and agricultural or industrial emissions, but we also know that there is a lot of plastic pollution in the environment” said Hart.

Understanding exposure in dolphins gives scientists insight into the contaminants in local waters and what other animals, including humans, are being exposed to, according to the study’s authors.

Gina Ylitalo, an analytical chemist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center who was not involved in the study, said dolphins are good indicators of what is going on in coastal waters.

“Any animals in the near shore environment with similar prey are probably being exposed as well,” she said. “The dolphins are great sentinels of the marine environment.”

Ubiquitous contaminants

Phthalate compounds are added to a wide variety of products to confer flexibility, durability, and lubrication. Some phthalates interfere with body systems designed to receive messages from hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. This can disrupt natural responses to these hormone signals.

Tests for phthalate exposure look for metabolites of the compounds, the products of initial breakdown of the compounds by the liver.

“We are looking for metabolites. These are indicators that the dolphins have been exposed somewhere in their environment and that the body has started to process them,” Hart said.

About 160 dolphins live in Sarasota Bay, a subtropical coastal lagoon tucked between barrier islands and the cities of Sarasota and Bradenton on the southwest coast of Florida. The Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program has tracked individual dolphins since 1970, monitoring their health, behavior, and exposure to contaminants. The dolphins are residents of the area year-round, across multiple decades, with individuals living up to 67 years.

In 2016 and 2017, Hart and her colleagues tested the urine of 17 wild dolphins in and around Sarasota Bay for nine phthalates. They found phthalate metabolites in the urine of 71 percent of the dolphins tested.

Hart compared the dolphin data to human data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which includes information about behavior and diet as well as blood and urine samples from a large cross section of the U.S. population. She found concentrations of one type of phthalate metabolite, monoethyl phthalate (MEP), were much lower in dolphins than in the human population surveyed by NHANES, but concentrations of another type of phthalate metabolite, mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (MEHP), were equivalent or higher to the levels found in humans.

“If you look at the primary uses of the parent compounds, MEP’s parent is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products including shampoos and body wash, whereas MEHP is a metabolite of a compound commonly added to plastic,” Hart said.

Indicator species

Understanding what dolphins are exposed to gives researchers and the public a better idea of what is in the environment.

The study is particularly valuable because of the long-term data available on the Sarasota dolphins’ health and behavior, said Ylitalo. Bottlenose dolphins are good indicators of pollutant exposure in whales and dolphins that can’t be easily sampled.

“We will not be getting urine samples from killer whales in my neck of the woods,” Ylitalo said. “They don’t know what the health effects are yet, but if any group can do it, it will be these type of folks who start teasing it out.”

Documenting exposure was an important first step, Hart said. She wants to expand the sample size to continue investigating the extent and potential health impacts of exposure and start tracking down possible sources. Ultimately, she hopes this research could be used to help curtail the sources of contamination.

“We’ve introduced these chemicals, they are not natural toxins, and we have the ability to reverse it, to clean this up.” Hart said.



Job Hunt

Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Intern (Winter 2018/2019)

Time commitment: THREE Full Days Per Week (8:00am – 6:00pm)

Marine Animal Rescue responds to calls to provide medical treatment for whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea turtles.  Established in 1968, the Marine Animal Rescue Team has responded to thousands of calls providing medical treatment to stranded, injured and diseased marine animals throughout the New England coastal region.  Interns provide support for Rescue staff in all aspects of the program.



  • A significant amount of cleaning is required in order to maintain the hospital environment
  • Follow standard quarantine protocols
  • Food preparation and feeding of animals
  • Restraining animals for treatments and injections
  • Monitoring behavior and health of animals
  • Maintaining records including water quality, daily food intake, swim charts and treatment sheets
  • Interns may have the opportunity to assist with necropsies and help with animals in the field


  • Previous animal handling experience
  • Must be in good physical condition and able to lift 50 pounds
  • Must be able to perform significant cleaning tasks daily
  • Must be able to work independently and as part of a team
  • Must be at least 18 years of age and have access to a car

Note: This internship is extremely competitive; pay close attention in addressing all of the position requirements and qualifications in your cover letter. This position is not available for January term.

*PLEASE NOTE: You must have your own transportation because this position has moved offsite to our Animal Care Center in Quincy, MA.

How to Apply

For more information, or to apply now, you must go to the website below. Please DO NOT email your resume to us as we only accept applications through our website.

New England Aquarium – Interns
Boston, MA 02110




  1. Trainer I – Marine Mammals

Take your career to new depths and put your skills to work in a one of a kind setting by becoming a part of the premiere aquarium showcasing the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. The Texas State Aquarium provides high quality, entertaining programming through education, conservation, and wildlife rehabilitation. We strive to provide our guests with an exciting, educational, and memorable experience.

The Trainer I for the Marine Mammal department will provide quality care and training for all marine mammal areas.

Other duties include but are not limited to:

  • Participate in the primary care and training of the marine mammal collection.
  • Maintain marine mammal exhibit.
  • Participates in all areas of marine mammal husbandry and programming.
  • Participate in behavioral enrichment.
  • Prepare food and feed according to established procedures.
  • Participate in primary care and training of Otters.
  • Observe animal behavior and report unusual/abnormal behavior to supervisor.
  • Assist Veterinarian during routine animal husbandry.
  • Maintain all feeding, behavior, training and medical records.
  • Enter data into TRACKS.
  • Clean, maintain, and store utensils and equipment used to feed and care for animals.
  • Assess water chemistry/temperatures and report anything unusual to supervisors.
  • May plan and direct the work of interns and volunteers in primary areas of responsibility.
  • Enter exhibits by use of SCUBA equipment to clean exhibitry, provide animal care, and/or feed.
  • Provide assistance on research projects related to animal behavior, animal nutrition, animal physiology, and water chemistry.
  • Contribute to the maintenance and cleanliness of the Dolphin Bay wet area.vvvvvv

Experience Required

Bachelor’s degree in biology, psychology, or related field from a four year college or university is required with a minimum of one year professional experience in Cetacean husbandry and training. An equivalent combination of education and experience that would likely produce the required knowledge skills and abilities may be considered. An Open Water SCUBA certification is required for consideration.


This position offers an attractive benefits/vacation package including a 100% employer paid health plan, dental, vision, disability, life insurance, and 403(b) retirement plan with a 100% match of the first 5% contributed.

How to Apply

Please apply online at Any applications submitted through AZA will not be reviewed.

Texas State Aquarium
2710 N Shoreline Blvd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78402
Phone: 361-881-1200
Fax: 361-881-1235

Marine mammal department internship Winter/Spring 2019

The marine mammal department at the Shedd Aquarium is comprised of 4 animal teams.  Three of these teams focus on birds and marine mammals, and 1 focuses on our interactive programming animals. The interns support the daily operations of the department. We offer 2 exciting internship opportunities, one focused on marine mammals and one focused on animal ambassador programming. Marine mammal interns help care for Pacific white-sided dolphins, beluga whales, northern and southern sea otters, California sea lions, three species of birds of prey, and rockhopper and Magellanic penguins.  The ambassador animal program intern(s) will work with various species including bird, reptile, invertebrates, and terrestrial mammals.  These internship experiences are designed to be a career learning experience—offering exposure to animal husbandry, positive reinforcement training, animal behavior and the chance to complete an individual observational or research project. Interns master food prep, record keeping and the basics of caring for and feeding animals.  Interns have opportunities to exercise leadership and communication skills and join a network of professionals caring for animals in Chicago and across the country.


Experience Required

  • Three 6-month terms each year, with new terms beginning early January, mid-May and early September of each year. See application form for specific submission deadlines. • Marine mammal interns work three 11-hour days per week, including one or both weekend days. • Ambassador animal program intern works four 8 hour days per week, including one or both weekend days. • Attendance at three evening seminars is encouraged but not required.

Further Comments

Responsibilities include: • Cleaning: A significant portion of time is spent maintaining a clean and healthy environment for the animals. This includes thorough cleaning and disinfection of animal habitats and reserve spaces, kitchens and food prep areas and animal dishes. • Food preparation: All interns spend a few hours each shift helping to prepare diets for all the animals. This includes thawing, inspecting, weighing, and cutting various food types as well as formula preparation and vitamin administration. Animal ambassador program intern will also prepare live feeder insects. • Recordkeeping: Interns assist in daily record keeping, helping to document diets consumed, cleaning chores, behavioral observations, session notes and enrichment details. • Special project: After mastering the basic chores of the department, each intern is assigned a special project to complete throughout the internship. A portion of time each day is allocated to the project and interns present their findings via power point slides at the end of the term. Projects may be focused on animal enrichment, animal behavior or data analysis, based on the current needs of the department. • Marine mammal intern will help assist in sessions and shows: Interns perform a variety of tasks during animal training sessions and shows, including operating manual and hydraulic doors, setting up and breaking down equipment for public presentations, managing guests, and assisting alongside trainers during animal training sessions. • Animal ambassador program intern will help assist in public presentations: Interns will assist in public encounters. This will include managing crowds, answering questions and handling small animals in front of a group of guests. Qualifications required: • Must currently be in a degree program or have graduated from one. Preference is given to those who are or have studied marine science, psychology, animal care or a related field. • Must be willing to support Shedd’s mission and represent the organization well to all guests. • Applicant must be committed to high quality work and able to follow directions to maintain high standards of care and cleanliness. • Desirable characteristics include: strong work ethic, positive attitude, and genuine curiosity about animal care and training. • Applicants must be able to work well independently and with a team. • Successful applicants are able to communicate openly and professionally, willing to ask questions and collaborate towards solutions. • Applicants must be able to regularly work all weekend days and holidays as well as late-night shifts when assigned. • Ability to lift objects in excess of 40 pounds as well as bend, crouch, squat and carry heavy buckets as needed. • Interns will be exposed to very cold temperatures and to salt water on a daily basis. • A commitment of 24 weeks, 33 hours per week is required.



How to Apply

Completed and signed application. • Resume indicating education and employment experiences. • Cover letter explaining career goals and reasons for interest in an internship with our program. • Letters of reference from at least three individuals who can vouch for your character and work ethic. Letters may be included in the application packet, mailed to Madelynn Hettiger at the address below or emailed directly to To be considered for the Marine Mammals Internship, please send completed application packet to: John G. Shedd Aquarium Attn: Madelynn Hettiger Marine Mammals Department 1200 South Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60605 Your packet may also be emailed to Letters of recommendation may be mailed or emailed directly to Madelynn Hettiger at or may be included with the application packet.

John G. Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605



Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment Internship

Marine Mammal Training and Enrichment Internship – Spring 2019

Reports to:      Curator of Behavior Husbandry

Schedule:        5 days per week, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

January-May 2019

Application deadline: October 15, 2018

Internship Overview:

This internship is designed for college students or recent graduates interested in pursuing a career in animal training or animal behavior.  Interns will work directly with the Curator of Behavioral Husbandry and animal keepers to learn the principles of animal training and enrichment through practical application, research and hands-on work with the animals.  This internship will focus on seal training and polar bear enrichment. The intern will participate in animal training sessions and schedule, implement and evaluate daily polar bear enrichment.  The intern will also conduct behavioral research to monitor polar bear behavior and evaluate the effectiveness of enrichment.

This internship is unpaid and housing is not provided.



Junior or Senior in college or recent graduate with a major in Biology, Animal Behavior, Psychology, Zoology or other related field

Strong willingness to learn, positive attitude, and team mentality

Previous hands-on work with animals

Proficiency in Microsoft Excel preferred

Throughout this internship the intern will:

Develop, coordinate and implement daily enrichment for polar bears

Prepare seal diets and participate in daily feeding/training sessions

Develop enrichment schedules for several species

Construct and implement enrichment items for various species

Conduct behavioral observations

Data entry and analysis

To apply please email a cover letter, resume and 3 references to:

Beth Posta

Curator of Behavioral Husbandry

The Toledo Zoo

419-385-5721 ext. 2051

How to Apply

The Toledo Zoo
2700 Broadway
Toledo , OH 43609



Argus – California Sea Lion
Rescued: October 4, 2017
Released: October 25, 2017
Diagnosis: Leptospirosis

California sea lion Argus was rescued just a few miles from The Marine Mammal Center near a busy marina. Our veterinary experts determined that he was suffering from leptospirosis, a bacterial infection of the kidneys. Argus was one of several dozen California sea lions we treated for leptospirosis in 2017. Treatment for the potentially lethal infection includes antibiotics, fluids and other supportive care, such as gastro-protectants for stomach and intestinal ulcers. Once Argus had recovered fully from the disease, he was released back to the wild just steps from our hospital.

Scientists use drone to sample whale breath and snot To study the microbiome of humpback whales

Scientists flew a small drone over the blowhole of a few humpback whales in the US and Canada to collect the microbes living inside their breath. Sampling the community of microbes and bacteria living inside whales, called the microbiome, can help us better understand what makes a healthy whale, and what happens when a whale gets sick.

In the new research, published this week in the journal mSystems, scientists describe 25 species of microbes found in each humpback’s breath they sampled. Though they don’t know how exactly these organisms affect the health of the whales yet, many of the same microbes are often found in other marine mammals, suggesting they play a role in keeping the animals healthy. The study is also the latest example of how drones can help scientists in their quest to conserve species: in Hawaii, botanists are also using drones to hunt down rare plants in hard-to-reach places like cliffs.

drone2 (1)

Just like humans, animals have a microcosm of organisms inhabiting their bodies — which help keep them healthy. While we’re just starting to explore the human microbiome and its functions, very little is known about the microbiome of whales, especially inside their breathing organs, where a lot of infections occur. So researchers decided to sample the spray of water and snot coming out of the hole atop the whale heads, which the animals use to breathe at the surface.

Usually, whale breath is collected by approaching the animals — which can be up to 60 feet long, in the case of humpbacks — with a small boat, and then holding 23-foot pole with a collection plate above the blowhole. That’s obviously time-consuming and dangerous — for people and whales. In search for a better method, scientists used a remote-controlled hexacopter equipped with a petri dish. They then flew it a few feet over the blowhole of 26 healthy humpback whales off the coast of Cape Cod in the Atlantic Ocean and Vancouver Island in the Pacific.


The researchers found 25 species of microbes in the breath of all whales, including 20 that were previously found in other marine mammals. That suggests that those organisms are connected to the creatures’ respiratory health, according to the study, although it’s not exactly clear how. But understanding what makes the microbiome of a healthy whale can help us monitor their health, identify dangerous pathogens in the future, and possibly understand how pollutants in the water can affect whales.

That’s key for their conservation. A number of large whales are listed as endangered or critically endangered, including some humpback whale populations off the coast of northwest Africa and Central America.



The secret of dolphins’ speed is not skin-deep, study shows


Does dolphin skin have secret powers that allow the flippered mammals to outrace boats? Scientists looking to answer this question have found that dolphins achieve impressive swimming speeds based on muscle power alone.

The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, solve a longtime mystery on the nature of dolphin propulsion.

Researchers have wondered how dolphins manage to swim so fast at least since the 1930s, when British zoologist James Gray marveled at reports of one dolphin’s apparent speed as it outraced a boat. Gray calculated that the dolphins simply didn’t have the muscle power to swim that fast; they must somehow use a trick of fluid mechanics to overcome the drag that would hold them back. This observation became known as Gray’s paradox.

The answer to Gray’s paradox was thought to lie in dolphins’ smooth skin. Could it manipulate water flow to reduce drag and improve speed? (It’s a reasonable idea – after all, speedy mako sharks have skin covered in tiny toothlike scales that help them make hairpin turns by controlling flow separation.)

The lure of such potential drag reduction spawned a host of research, said lead author Frank Fish, a biomechanist at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. This was particularly true in the 1960s during the Cold War, when both Russia and the U.S. coveted the dolphin’s supposed secrets.

“Cold war paranoia afflicted both Pentagon and Kremlin in the form of wildly exaggerated estimates of the speeds of each other’s submarines,” Duke University biomechanist Steven Vogel wrote in the book “Comparative Biomechanics: Life’s Physical World.”

Researchers tried to pick apart the secrets of dolphin skin in a number of ways, wrapping rubbery artificial skin around test torpedoes and even dragging naked young women (or “nekkid leddies,” as referenced here) through the water to see how their skin responded to the drag. (Women have more fatty tissue under their skin than men do, which gives their skin more “dolphin-like” properties, Fish said.)

Nowadays, to watch how animals affect the flows around them as they move through water, researchers often fill a water tank with 10-micron-wide glass beads and shoot a laser sheet through the water to illuminate the beads and watch how the animals’ movement affects the beads and thus disturbs the flow.

You can do this with jellyfish, not so much with dolphins, Fish said – there are concerns about what would happen if the laser hit them in the eye or if they ingested the beads.

“It’s one thing to work with a fish, it’s another thing to work with a dolphin – we tend to protect them,” Fish said. “Dolphins are very pampered animals, when we keep them.”

Luckily, Fish said, engineer Timothy Wei of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln had been working with other “pampered animals” – Olympic swimmers – and had come up with an ingenious and low-cost solution to track them as they swam.

Instead of using glass beads, Wei used air bubbles. Here’s how: They got a garden soaker hose that’s typically used to water lawns and pumped air through it from an oxygen tank. The tiny bubbles that came out of the hose’s pores created a sheet of bubbles that, when illuminated by sunlight, could act just like the reflective glass beads in the laser sheet.

The scientists had Primo and Puka, two retired Navy dolphins, swim along the length of the bubble wall. After watching the patterns created in the bubbles, the scientists realized that the bottlenose dolphins were producing an incredible amount of power – enough to overcome the enormous drag they were experiencing.

So the answer to Gray’s paradox? There was no paradox, Fish concluded.

“First off, we can stop looking for a magic mechanism to reduce drag,” Fish said. “There may be ways to reduce drag, but the dolphin [skin] isn’t going to show us those.”

In any case, he added, “it basically starts to tell us things about how well designed these aquatic athletes are.”

It could mean that flippered robots could theoretically be an alternative to the propeller-driven kind, said Fish, who said he’s currently working on creating a manta ray robot.

In the meantime, the bubble method of tracking animals’ flow patterns might be useful in testing larger animals in the open ocean – it’s certainly more portable than the laser-and-beads method, Fish said.


How do pink river dolphins reproduce?


Reproduction in pink river dolphins start when a couple of dolphins mate to start the gestation period.

-This period can take from nine to twelve months when mothers give birth to the baby dolphin.

-Pink river dolphins reproduce at the end of October to the beginning of November, therefore giving birth between May and July when the water in the Amazon is at its highest.