Research

Nicole K Enright, Mark A Halladay, & Jill Borger-Turner

The NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently declared a California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) Unusual Mortality Event (UME) (NOAA Fisheries, Office of Protected Resources, 2015), with over 2700 animals, predominantly pups and yearlings, reported stranded between January and April, 2015 (NOAA Fisheries, West Coast Region, 2015). As rescue facilities become overwhelmed, the critical role of zoological facilities in this crisis is increasing. Dolphins Plus Bayside acquired [...]

Isabella L. K. Clegg, Jill L. Borger-Turner and Holli C. Eskelinen

The field of welfare science and public concern for animal welfare is growing, with the focus broadening from animals on farms to those in zoos and aquariums. Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are the most common captive cetaceans, and relevant regulatory standards are principally resource based and regarded as minimum requirements. In this study, the farm animal Welfare Quality® assessment was adapted to measure the welfare of bottlenose dolphins, with a similar proportion of animal- [...]

Kelley A. Winship, Stan A. Kuczaj II, & Holli C. Eskelinen

Wild dolphins appear to cooperate on some occasions while foraging and playing. In addition, male dolphins may cooperate to both obtain mating opportunities and deny these opportunities for other males. However, it is difficult to determine the origins and nature of these cooperative efforts. Moreover, it has proven difficult to demonstrate cooperative behavior in problem solving situations with captive dolphins. We provided three different groups of captive dolphins the opportunity to [...]

Melissa M. Lopes, Holli C. Eskelinen, Stan A. Kuczaj, Jill L. Richardson

Marine mammal exposure to artificial stimuli, whether novel or familiar, may elicit a variety of responses over time, and these responses may vary demographically. The goal of this study was to assess the responses of 20, captive Tursiops truncatus, housed at two facilities in Key Largo, Florida (Dolphins Plus and Dolphin Cove), to an object stimulus over time and compare differences between sexes and among age classes (calves, juveniles, sub-adults, and adults). A 3 m2 apparatus, composed of [...]

Mary K. Lawrence, Jill L. Richardson, Holli C. Eskelinen, Ted N. Turner

Learning principles are essential to understanding animal behavior and can be predictive of numerous animal responses. The “create” behavior, first described by Pryor et al. (1969), involves the presentation of an SD that elicits a marine mammal to perform any behavior of their choice. At Dolphin Cove, a natural seawater facility in Key Largo, Florida, the create behavior was trained as a non-repeat contingency for reinforcement, in that each response was considered correct and reinforced, as [...]