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By: Dashanda Pinder (The Nature Conservancy intern)

Dolphin Cay Atlantis is one of my favorite places in the Bahamas so I was excited to have the opportunity to work with the staff there fore one day. Upon my arrival at the amazing Dolphin Cay, I was greeted by one of the friendly gate attendants. I then asked ‘how may I find Dolphin Cay? ’ and she replied and said ‘drive straight down and when I start to see and hear the seagulls, you’ve reach your dream destination!’ When I arrived on the Dolphin Cay property, I was greeted with smiles from the friendly workers. They saw the excitement beaming off of my face. I quickly suited up in my Dolphin Cay work attire. I was introduced to the staff and then I received some tips and safety precautions. Linda Hammerton, Director of Marine Mammals operations took me to different areas of the Cay.  There I got the chance to see and meet the massive sea-lion name Nemo (Mo), who is actually 800 plus pounds. He’s the type of animal whose scent may be identified quickly. Mo is very much loved by his trainer who loves his distinct scent and  is at peace whenever Mo is around.

After meeting Mo, I went and visited the other attractions. I enjoyed every piece of the Cay from turtles to the talkative Parrots. But nothing trumps the dolphins who always seem to steal the show. Kelly is my favorite dolphin mainly because she has a wonderful sense of humor like me. She is forty one years old and loves to kiss and meet new people. She has a tremendous relationship with her trainer John and is learning a lot from him. Kelly can always be found interacting with guests or stealing fish out of her trainer’s bucket. Another dolphin which I am very fond of is Rose. She is not the easiest or the most obedient dolphin because she is just one year old. She certainly knows how to keep everyone on their feet that’s for sure, especially her trainer Justin. Rose is often found next to her mother and loves to play games. Rose is a one of a kind dolphin – beautiful and bubbly!

Whether you are a human or dolphin, Dolphin Cay provides an opportunity to interact with various species. During my work day, I learned and observed ten out of the forty five bottlenose dolphins found on the Cay. The bottlenose dolphins’ favorite food is FISH.  They have been known to sneak fish from their trainer’s bucket. Well actually the dolphin and the seagulls compete for the fish but in many cases the dolphins win. Visitors too love to watch the dolphins show their many talents, leaving smiles on the guests faces….

As I continued my work day, I got the chance to understand a little more about the intelligent creatures. Did you know that there are thirty two different kinds of ocean dolphins and four river dolphins? I also learn that there are fresh water dolphins as well. Currently there are twenty six females and nineteen males on this Cay. They are sweet, loving, loyal and very intelligent creatures. It takes time and effort in order for these mammals to trust and be comfortable with humans….very similar to the way humans interact with other humans!

Yes this was indeed an exciting day for me and I learned a lot about the marine mammals there. This experience has now stimulated my interest in the marine science field. This remarkable experience would not have taken place without The Nature Conservancy and the Dolphin Cay team working together to ensure that I gain the knowledge and breath-taking experience that I so longed for.