Find out how a dolphin can recognise their trainer

When 10 years has passed and you see with your own eyes, the proof of a unique bond between an animal and a human.

I was so flabbergasted it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.

Misty… the closest animal to me and the smarted dolphin I have ever trained, proved to me once again, what a special bond we had after 10 years without interacting with each other.

When I remember how we found her, its breaks my heart!

She was just a baby, floating lifeless, like a piece of drift-wood in the open ocean, alone and close to dying, when we came to her rescue.

It was April the 4th 2005, she was a very sick, cast away from her family, very dehydrated body, with severe infections plus around six ulcers in her stomach, which I later observed through our endoscope camera.

After nursing her back to health, she soon became the most intelligent and responsive animal and after sleeping many nights by her side on the trainer’s platform, we developed a bond that was evident in her reaction to me, whenever we were together.

Fast forward now to two weeks ago, on a visit to see all my friends at Dolphin Cove Jamaica Ocho Rios, my one thought was how was Misty. She was 16 years old whilst I was there, so I wanted to see my young friend!  I was asked if I wanted to help feed her and naturally, with such a kind offer from the trainers who by now had heard of our history, I could not miss the chance to see Misty.

I gave her a tactile signal, which I used to give her always when we used to play, only she and I knew about it, it was our little secret… I was speechless when she responded positive and with fluency to my signal after 10 years…my heart was bursting with happiness, after she showed me that she remembered my unique signal and touch. I spent a short while with her and could tell by other unique signals and touches that she remembered each one perfectly.

It was an amazing experience and confirms my belief that not only are these beautiful animals so intelligent, but that a special bond can exist between a trainer with an honest kind heart, putting their love into how they treat their animal and an animal respecting that treatment. Often, Misty offered to perform without constant positive reinforcement, because she trusted me to reward fully at the end of the program, this was also somewhat unique to Misty and I, but it also demonstrates what can happen, if you treat the animals with love and respect.

In my experience, having a particular tactile signal (SD) for a very simple behaviour, one that only you and your dolphin knows, proves an animal can remember specific signals for many years, years that they have not been in contact with that trainer or signal. The story about my recent encounter with Misty demonstrated this perfectly to me.

A big thank you to you guys at Ocho Rios for making this experience possible, it will remain in my heart, as will Misty, forever.

Chinese white dolphin population dwindling, says govt report


The number of Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong waters has been decreasing, according to the latest official statistics, suggesting that government efforts to preserve the endangered species appear to be making little headway.

According to the 2016/17 Marine Mammals Monitoring Report published by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), there were only 47 sightings of Chinese white dolphins in the waters off Lantau, where they tend to appear most often.

The number represented a 27 percent drop from the previous year and the lowest since 2002. There were no sightings for the second year in a row in the northeast waters of Lantau, where the main construction work for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is taking place

In 1997, the Chinese white dolphin was chosen as the mascot to mark Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. It is listed among the wild animals under Grade 1 conservation according to Chinese law.

To prepare the report on marine mammals, researchers conducted a total of 178 line-transect vessel surveys in 10 survey areas in Hong Kong waters between April 2016 and March 2017.

Of the 1,233 dolphins sighted during the 12-month period, including Chinese white dolphins, only 17 were unspotted juveniles.

These young calves comprised only 1.4 percent of the total, compared with nearly 8 percent in 2003, suggesting the population of dolphins may dwindle in the future.

Dr. Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society and lead writer of the AFCD report, said the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has had a great impact on the habitat of the Chinese white dolphin, according to hk01.com.

Construction of the planned third runway and the high-speed ferries that regularly pass the waters are further threats to the animals’ survival, Hung said.

To help preserve the dolphins, Hung urged the government to establish a large marine protected area in West Lantau waters.

“Habitat destruction from expanding reclamation work in Lantau waters and the hi-speed marine traffic in the area have increased the stress on the dolphin population,” the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said. “The underwater noise generated inhibits their echolocation capability.”

These disturbances threaten the survival of the remaining dolphins in Hong Kong waters, said Samantha Lee, WWF-Hong Kong conservation manager for oceans.

WWF-Hong Kong urges the government to establish the West Lantau Marine Park as soon as possible to protect the remaining dolphin habitats.

source: https://www.ejinsight.com/