Dolphin Discovery has continued its recent success, winning awards for the fifth year in a row at the annual International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association.
The company, which has a base at Grand Cayman, came up trumps in five categories at the event.
Alejandro Mata and the Dolphin Discovery staff won the Teamwork Award for their formal presentation about the Mexico-based rescue and rehabilitation of a two day-old West Antillean Manatee named Tuuch. The same presentation was second in the Education and Conservation category.
Edgar Urbina and Manuel Garduno were recognised for their poster presentation, ‘Operant conditioning gave a second chance for Luna to be a good mother,’ and Daniel Nyselius took the First Time Presenter Award for his presentation to do with voluntary stomach intubation in West Antillean Manatees, which also won first place in the Husbandry Training Award.
General Manager Carlos Moreno explained that the awards were a source of prestige for the facility as it is recognition that he says speaks highly of the company’s status within the industry.
‘ITAMA gather once a year – this year it was hosted in Atlanta, Georgia. They share everything they’ve done in the last year as far as training, news, medical are concerned. Everybody shares information about new procedures and new findings within the industry.’
IMATA is dedicated to advancing the humane care and handling of marine animals. This is achieved through fostering communications between professionals in marine animal science. The organisation is dedicated to providing the most professional, effective and humane care of marine animals in all habitats.
The awards recognise significant contributions in research development. ITAMA’s values include training animals with an emphasis on positive reinforcement to ensure humane care; to respect and support all colleagues and organisations in the field; to advance opportunities for personal and professional growth; to foster international networking and open communication.
They also seek to create novel approaches toward ‘green’ practices and conservation and to develop a resource of professionals, leaders and experts in the animal field and to ensure ‘sensational customer service to [IMATA] members and the community’.
Dolphin Discovery has facilities at Cancun, Cozumel, British Virgin Islands, Vallarta, Anguilla and Grand Cayman. They have recently opened a facility at Six Flags in Mexico City.
There are five trainers employed by Dolphin Discovery in Cayman and they move between facilities sharing experience and new training information. The company is currently preparing the facility to the guideline standards o the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, which state that there must be educational informaion, customer service and procedural standards met.
‘It is even more strict than the United States Department of Agriculture who set the guidelines for most of the countries around the world. We have surpassed the USDA guidelines with the Alliance,’ said Mr. Moreno
Central to Dolphin Discovery’s philosophy is education both internally and externally, one of the main purposes of the company being to build an ecological conscience in their guests through the interaction with marine mammals.
The Cayman facility has enjoyed excellent feedback from tourists in part because of its bespoke build, noted Mr. Moreno.
‘Most of the facilities in the Caribbean were not custom-made but this was built from scratch to be a dolphin facility. People who have been to other similar places really notice the difference.’