Educational dolphin presentation

Do you see any dolphins in here now, in the lagoon? We have a number of them in here now. Sting who we see here, with Nephele and Lyra coming to visit. There are about forty species of dolphins in the world, and the one we’re seeing here is the bottlenose dolphin. We have eight bottlenose dolphins at Kolmården. Not all are in the lagoon right now, and that’s because we have three pools in total. We have the lagoon, where we are right now like I said. We also have a pool where no visitors are permitted so the dolphins can choose be by themselves. And then of course we have the show pool where some of you might have seen our show. So those are the three pools, and for the vast majority of the time, they get to choose where they want to be. Bottlenose dolphins like all dolphins are mammals, just like us humans. Which means for example that they breathe air with their lungs, and they do this with their blowhole or nose right on top of their heads. So they don’t breathe through their mouth too like we do, but only through the “nose”, or blowhole. But unlike us humans, dolphins have a so-called conscious breathing. Which means that they always have to think about when to breathe, and this means they can’t sleep. If they were to sleep and be relaxed in both brain halves, no part could control the breathing. They solved this by resting one part of their brain at a time, while the other is controlling breathing and, in the wild, looking out for potential dangers. And this also means we can’t sedate our dolphins. Which means that if they were to become sick for example, we want to be able to perform most things on them voluntarily. And thus we have a large focus on so-called husbandry training. That’s so that we are able to handle the dolphins in the best way without it being stressful to them. So we train them for example in voluntary blood draw, getting ultrasounds voluntarily, and so on. We do this with something called positive reinforcement, and it means that we reward every little progress. While every little step back, we’re simply ignoring, so nothing happens. So they only get tons of reward when they do things right, and when they do it wrong, nothing happens. And this reward can be anything from fish, to toys, to our attention, simply anything that they like. But as you’ve seen in our shows, we don’t just train them for husbandry training, but also other behaviors. And this is simply to give them physical and mental stimulation. Here comes Valter. He is going to train Luna down here by the glass. So you will get to meet her a little closer. Luna is about fifteen years old. Born here at Kolmården. And in the pool is also among others her sister Ariel, her half-sister Lyra, and a few other individuals. Sting who is Ariel’s son, Peach who is Ariel’s daughter, Fenah who is Lyra’s daughter… Then we also have Nephele and her daughter Pärla. So now they gathered all the dolphins. And this we do by hitting the palm of our hand on the water surface. In that way, the dolphins hear regardless of where they are, in the lagoon or another pool, where to go. And so they understand that a training session has begun. After that we can split the dolphins up among the trainers. And just like all other training, we’re trying to keep it varied. So that sometimes a trainer is with two dolphins, sometimes with one, sometimes all, three, and so on. So the trainer (I really can’t hear his name) you can see to the left, he’s going to train front flips. Stina is going to have our smallest individual, Peach, who is only about eleven months old. Valter is going to have Luna here now. He shows where she should go by slapping the glass. And so Matilda will have the rest of the group and work on them simply being calm together. Here you can also see Luna’s blowhole which sits on top of the head. So it’s from there that she breathes, and it’s also where all her sounds are made. One could think they come from the mouth since the mouth is often open when they make noises, But actually it’s always from the blowhole. Dolphins are also very fast and agile animals, they can reach speeds of about 40-50 km/h. And this is thanks to their slender body, and their tail flukes, which… …as you can see now, shown by Luna. This tail allows them to reach these high speeds. And finally they have the dorsal fin to keep balance, and the pectoral flippers to steer. And as you can see, Valter rewards Luna as soon as she does something good with a great deal of fish. Here at Kolmården they get herring and capelin… …that’s herring they’re feeding them now. And as I said, also capelin, and sometimes they also get squid as a special treat. And when we end a training session, we try to always give the last fish to everyone at the same time. So they don’t think it’s unfair, that one dolphin keeps getting fish while they don’t get anything. We always try to give the last fish at the same time, so there won’t be any conflicts. Are you ready for the last one? Last one! Time to thank Valter and Luna! And this with the last fish at the same time, we also do because dolphins are in a so-called matriarchy. Which means the females decide. There is a dominant female, and often her daughters and others in the pod. Males in the wild live in smaller male groups, in pairs, or sometimes even solitary. But within this pod there is a very strict hierarchy. There is the dominant female at the top, who is the one in charge so to speak. And then there are dolphins under her. So if we were to give the last fish to a subdominant dolphin, the dominant dolphin will get angry at the subdominant. Just like in the wild, it’s always the dominant eating first, here they want to eat last. So to avoid this conflict, we always give the last fish to the most dominant in the pod. And thus we trainers always have to communicate so that we always give the last fish to the most dominant. I’m going to stay down here, so if you have any questions, you are very welcome to come down and speak to me. Other than that, that was it from me, the dolphins and my coworkers, and we hope you have a nice day here in the park. Thank you!

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