Now I know what you’re thinking, this is a weird thing to put on a mini bucket list. However, anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a very hidden obsession with marine animals. More specifically sea turtles and dolphins. And for anyone who doesn’t know this, the Baltimore aquarium HAS DOLPHINS. Oddly enough I was actually born in Baltimore so I have been to the aquarium, but I was also no older than a year and anyone who says they have memories of being a year old is a liar.
The main reason for our visit to Baltimore was to go to the Eagles vs. Ravens game but being that we could see the aquarium from our hotel room, it was a must. We spend almost the whole day there. I hadn’t been to a good aquarium since I was really young. My grandparents used to live part of the year in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and one time when we went to visit, we went to the aquarium down there. However, I was so young that it is a pretty vague memory. Growing up in Maine the closest aquarium is the one in Boston but unless it has made significant improvements in the last five years, don’t waste your time in Boston by going there.
The set up in Baltimore is pretty cool. The exhibits flow pretty well so you do not feel like you are rushed or missing anything significant. When you first walk in there is a giant section that is open and over looks a tank with all different types of ocean fish, coral, sharks and a giant sea turtle. What is really cool is that this section is where you start and give you a birds eye view of the tank. As you finish your visit, you walk down a ramp and end at the view under the same tank so you can look in on all the creatures in stead of above them.
Here are some of my favorite pictures:
The best part of the day though, of course, was the dolphins. I am still not sure I have the words to express how exciting and cool it was to see. If I am remembering correctly they had eight dolphins total, six females and two males. I am always really iffy about how I feel regarding animals in captivity but seeing these dolphins I did not feel like they were mistreated or unhappy in anyway. The one thing I really liked was that the dolphins in Baltimore do not preform shows. When we went into the exhibit, we watched something they call educational talks. During this, all the female dolphins were put into the very large pool in the front where several trainers essentially played with them while one trainer discussed who each dolphin was and a few different facts about their dolphins. One trainer did explain and demonstrate how they “train” their dolphins. The dolphins can recognize a signal by the trainers that means they want them to do something. However, the difference between these dolphins and preforming dolphins is that the dolphins in Baltimore do not have specific tricks they do. The signal from the trainer to dolphin tells the dolphin to do something, but the dolphin is in full control of what they do. Whether they flip, wave, throw a ball, it is totally up to them. The only stipulation is that when they signal again, the dolphin is suppose to do whatever they want, as long as it is a different trick than what they did before. If they do a different trick, the trainer uses a special whistle which the dolphins recognize as being a praise. If they do a repeat, the trainer does not use the whistle and just moves on.
The head trainer explained to us that the way they handle their dolphins is to have a clear understanding that sometimes the dolphins simply are not felling it. Like humans, they may be having a bad day are not up for entertaining in which case the trainers leave them be and let them do as the please. All I can say is that I am glad these dolphins were having a good day when we visited, because it made my day!