Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


n order for captive Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to stay healthy and happy, it is important that the trainers and caretakers who work with these animals are meeting all of their needs. In order to establish a successful training program, it is extremely important to know that the dolphins' social and behavioral needs are being satisfied. If these needs are not met, there are serious consequences sometimes even resulting in a dolphin's death. Because these animals are so intelligent and because their social structure in the wild is so complex, how to go about meeting their social and behavioral needs is not always obvious to the people who care for them. There are issues to deal with such as aggression, depression, health problems, stress, and desensitization which each much be taken into account when meeting these needs. The most common way to meet these needs for the dolphins is through successful training, and once a training program is established it also becomes much easier to meet the other types of needs these dolphins have which include their medical, physical, psychological, and environmental/husbandry needs. Having successfully trained captive dolphins also serves as a means for being able to do research and data collection with them. This allows us to learn more about their species in general, and that information can then be applied to policies that currently exist which promote the conservation of wild dolphin populations or used to recommend new such policies. The Long Marine Lab of the University of California in Santa Cruz, has been involved in a research project for several years with two captive adult Atlantic bottlenose dolphins under the direction of Dr. Terrie Williams that deals with determining how much energy it costs a dolphin to be a dolphin out in the wild, and therefore estimating how much food is required to maintain that energy level so as to prevent the fishing industry from overfishing and depleting the needed food source these animals must have in order to survive. Having been a volunteer at the Long Marine Lab for the past three years, my own biases and ethical values are shaped around my concern for the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin species and ensuring that they remain off of the endangered species list. Education and awareness are the keys to accurately determining the amount of fish needed for the wild dolphin populations and the many other marine species of the world as well as getting the public to become involved with efforts to conserve and protect our oceans.


Capstone Project (B.S.) Earth Systems Science & Policy Institute

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