I love dolphins. I dreamt of swimming with them in the ocean. I began to read more about these mammals and I found out some very interesting things about them. They use echolocation to find food under sand. They have saved human lives. They are intelligent, playful and interact with humans. The more I began to understand the way dolphins communicate and connect to humans, the more I wanted to learn about them and the greater my desire to swim with these majestic creatures became.
Then my mom told me about a program offered by Dolphin Academy called dolphin assistant training at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium Park.
My mother loves dolphins ever since she was a little girl, just like me. Actually, in her work she helps families who have children with special needs participate in the dolphin assisted therapy program at CDTC. This is an ongoing project that keeps her close to the dolphins she adores while making a huge difference in the lives of many families. She’s “in the know” and thanks to her, before I started my first year of high school my mom took me on this trip, just the two of us to Curaçao, and she treated me to a wish-fulfilling opportunity to dolphin train.
Dolphin training takes place at Dolphin Academy, where one or many can have a one-on-one encounter with these amazing dolphins.
The course lasts two days after which you receive a certification of Level 1 and continue to higher levels. It is a wonderful experience.
For anyone reading this and curious about engaging with dolphins, here’s what this program was like:
On the first day at 8 am I met with my trainer Iris, she was really nice.
She informed me about the dolphins at this particular location; they are in an enclosed area in the ocean where they have all the space they need in a natural lagoon and an amazing bond with their trainers. I was able to observe this for myself. After listening to instructions and identifying parts of the dolphin’s anatomy, I was later quizzed and tested. Finally, after all the theory, I got to put my wetsuit on in preparation to meet the dolphins.
At first I had to let the dolphin approach me and recognize me, and once he did I had to earn his respect. I learned many hand signals to make the dolphin jump, spin and even splash the water with his tail. Soon after, I followed Iris to a room where at least 20 coolers covered the floor; the lids were open and the buckets ready to be filled with fish and ice. I had to separate and measure the food into the different containers because every dolphin has their own weight and diet. It was so much fun feeding them afterwards. I can’t believe I was involved like that, I loved it! My entire morning was dedicated to learning and connecting to dolphins, getting quizzed and writing the test which, by the way, I aced!
On the second day of the course, there was more time to spend with the dolphins. I was taught precise hand gestures and watched the professional trainers interact with their aquatic friends. As a final treat, I had the privilege to participate in the dolphin show along with the trainers sitting on the platform. It was so exciting to be introduced to the crowd as the newest dolphin assistant trainer. I made the dolphins do a few tricks and I loved being able to do that in front of the crowd. My experience in Curaçao was the most memorable experience ever! I hope to be able to do it again sometime soon.