Monday, October 10, 2016

Ashland Biology Major Spends Summer as a Dolphin Care Intern

Senior Biology major Cortney Kourie had the unique opportunity to spend this past summer in Key
Largo, Florida taking care of and training Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.  Cortney's experience as a researcher at Ashland University with faculty mentor Dr. Dolly Crawford helped her secure this opportunity, along with her strong application materials.  We will let her describe her amazing summer:
This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to be an animal care and training intern at Dolphins Plus Oceanside in Key Largo, Florida. As an intern, my responsibilities were to assist in animal husbandry of the 14 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at my facility as well as 2 California sea lions for a couple of days at Dolphins Plus Bayside, Oceanside’s sister facility. In my day-to-day routine, I was in charge of preparing hydrations, nebulizer treatments, vitamins, and husbandry coolers. In addition to preparing all of these husbandry items, I also was in charge of knowing when they needed to occur during different sessions and making sure everything was ready and on the docks. I also assisted in the 3-5 sessions per day on the docks with the animals, which consisted of both swim sessions with the public and husbandry sessions. Additionally, there was a lot of scrubbing of buckets, fridges, and any other item we used in our daily care routine as there is in any animal care position. As for my interest in research, I was also able to assist in data collection by recording respiration rates and blowhole durations daily. My favorite part of the internship, however, was the privilege of finally getting to be a b-point, a secondary trainer who keeps an uncooperative dolphin occupied so that another trainer can finish a husbandry or swim session with a different dolphin. The internship was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun. I was surrounded by amazing people including the trainers and the other interns, some of whom I lived with. This internship has taught me better time management and organization, and I have grown a greater respect for and understanding of the animal care field. I have definitely decided on my career path, and I hope to work with dolphins and many other animals in my future.

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