The National Aquarium's Dolphin Discovery exhibit is home to six Atlantic bottlenose dolphin and is the aquarium's largest exhibit. Guests can learn about the daily life of a dolphin and talk with one of the marine mammal experts to find out what it's like caring for a dolphin. At the National Aquarium, education is an integral part of the aquarium's mission, and the dolphin talk is no exception.
Tickets and Times
Tickets: Dolphin talks are free with aquarium admission.
Times: Times vary and change day-to-day – check digital signage once you arrive.
Dolphins Demonstrate Their Speed
Even though they are mammals, dolphins are incredibly fast swimmers. They breathe through the blowholes on top of their heads. Each time a dolphin surfaces, the flap over its blowhole opens. The dolphin then rapidly exhales and inhales, and the flap closes. In one breath, dolphins may exchange up to 90 percent of the air in their lungs, compared with a human's air exchange, which is approximately 15 percent. During the show, they display their speed by racing around the pool.
Several trainers work with dolphins simultaneously during the show, but usually only swims with them.
From the aquarium's Web site: Dolphins' curious behavior has convinced many people that they are very intelligent. When in aquariums and zoos, they quickly learn behaviors; they appear to be healthier when they are presented with games and tasks to perform. Although trainers rate their intelligence as equal to that of smart dogs, scientists disagree as to exactly how "smart" dolphins are. Until scientists devise a way to measure intelligence, this shall remain a mystery.
Showing off Their Skills
While there is a large educational component to the show, there's plenty of simple old-fashioned fun as well. It's truly amazing to see what trainers can teach these wonderful creatures to do.
Visitors Get up Close and Personal
When the show ends, visitors can walk to the front of the tank to observe the dolphins more closely. Be aware, however, that if you do this you're at risk of getting wet. Dolphins are playful and enthusiastic and can jump or splash at any time.