Daily Archives: February 9, 2012

Georgia Aquarium Dolphin Show, er, Dolphin Education

Because I just can’t learn enough about dolphins, I find myself coming back to these “home movies” of Dolphin Tales show at the Georgia Aquarium.

Dolphin Tales, Georgia Aquarium

From today’s home movie, I learned about a Dolphin Trick

Tail Walking:  Today I learned that dolphins can tail walk.  Oh, wait.  I knew that.  More accurately, I knew that we can make them learn to tail walk.  A trick that we can teach them.  Now, the Georgia Aquarium and its ilk like to call these “behaviors”.  But this trick, er, behavior, is not natural dolphin behavior.  You won’t see a dolphin in the wild doing a tail walk.  Although there are some reports out there of seeing something like it in recent years, it has been suggested to be related to the release/escape of trained formerly captive dolphins teaching this trick to wild dolphins.

Another dolphin trick I learned about, but not from the video.

Eating dead fish:  Neither is eating a dead, dehydrated fish a dolphin “behavior.”  This doesn’t exactly qualify as a “trick,” unless you’re the aquarium owner; then it’s a pretty neat trick that you need your dolphin to learn, or it will die.  In which case, you’ll have to get another dolphin.  Or hope that one of your breeder dolphins will deliver something other than a stillborn (not uncommon) or short-lived calf (also not uncommon).

Drinking from a water hose: Nor is drinking water from a hose to stay hydrated a dolphin “behavior.”  It’s another trick.  Another necessary trick to keep them alive in captivity.  They have to give dolphins water from a hose – even though they’re in water all the time, just as they are in the wild – because the Eating the Dead Fish Trick that we taught them to keep them alive in captivity also deprives them of the fresh water content of live fish.  So then we have to teach them the Drink From the Water Hose Trick.

So, Georgia Aquarium.  I’m not sure what you’re telling your guests are dolphin behaviors.  But I’ll just say this once more.  This evening.  To call something a “behavior”, it must be something native or natural to that species.  Anything else is a trick.

But for that information, I go to books, not to the Georgia Aquarium.

I’m feeling rather like gesturing with an affectionate Ralph Kramden (sidebar:  one of the Georgia Aquarium’s deceased whale sharks was named Ralph and another, I’m not sure if she is still alive, was named Alice) “To the Moon, Alice.”  One of these days soon, I’m certain that you’ll take the pledge not to buy a ticket to the dolphin show.

For that, I thank you in advance.  No tricks.