The National Aquarium in Baltimore is home to eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, ranging from 5-year-old Bayley to 41-year-old Nani. Bottlenose dolphins can grow to 6 to 12 feet in length and weigh 400 to 800 pounds. Each dolphin eats 30 to 35 pounds of fish daily. Nani is the heaviest at the aquarium,
weighing in at 530 pounds.
All dolphins are mammals, like whales, and there are over 30 species in the wild.
The dolphins at the aquarium get a visual exam every day and receive four physical exams each year. In addition, the 13 dolphin trainers at the aquarium provide enrichment and training sessions each day to ensure the best quality of life for the dolphins.
Trainers use rewards to reinforce specific behaviors. Some of the rewards can be toys, fish or interaction with the trainers. The trainers also use a target pole, a long pole with a buoy at the end, which the dolphins are taught to touch and follow. The trainers subsequently introduce hand signals and
eventually get rid of the pole.
It can take up to a year to teach a dolphin to flip.