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Sunday, June 11th, 8PM

Much like yesterday, today was a fairly relaxed day compared to regular lab days. I arrived just before lunch time after waiting almost a half hour for the bus to show up. Sean had been trainer for Phoenix that day and had just finished when I arrived. It was a while before the next session, so I wondered around the tanks for a bit to see if any "friends" wanted to play. I stepped up on the makai diamondhead training step and Hiapo was quick to come over with one of the horseball buoy things in his mouth. He lifted his pec flipper, waving hi to me, and squeaked and clicked softly. I pushed the buoy around a bit and splashed him lightly a few times, and he opened his mouth in response (they like the feeling of water on their open mouths). I haven’t had Hiapo come over very many times. He’s usually too interested in "the ladies" to be interested in anything else.

I spent most of the day talking with Mattias about the video editing computer, and just computer stuff in general. He had an old Dell P133 computer down in the office in the front lanai that was giving him problems so I looked at that for him. It was INSANELY slow, so I decided it was a problem with windows and that the hard drive would have to be wiped and started clean. I’ll work on that tomorrow.

The afternoon session was an extremely entertaining session to watch.
Akeakamai spitting water
Elele was amazingly energetic during her session with Liz. It was a great session to watch!
I pulled my camcorder out and began recording a session between Elele and Liz, and it was worth having on tape. Ellie was so absolutely energetic and looking for attention that anything she was asked to do was done to the maximum extent it could be. For instance, when she was asked to do a jump over a ball, she’d jump over it 4 times! Liz was full of great ideas of things to do with her too, so she wasn’t left sitting still very often. I was amazed to see again just how good Ellie is with a basketball. She really has amazing control flipping it up in her mouth and passing it to her trainer. One time Liz told Ellie to go bring back both a Frisbee and a basketball from the middle of the tank. Rather than just push both in front of her mouth, which wasn’t working very well at first, she tossed the basketball out of the way, picked up the Frisbee in her mouth, and picked the basketball up on the Frisbee like a glass on a tray. It sure looked like she was using the Frisbee as a tool of some kind. Sean didn’t think it was a tool but rather the equivalent to pushing both in front of her. While initially that's what it appeared like, I think she made an effort to put the ball on top of the Frisbee because it'd be easier. Most of the other participants I showed the video to seemed to agree with me on the tool concept.

After the session, Brian and Suzzie put the big wooden gate in place of the steel-bar gate so they could drain the one tank for tomorrow’s tank cleaning. They moved all four dolphins into the mauka tank and slid the big wooden door in place. With all the dolphins in the other tank, Brian decided it was time for a swim. I joined them and had a quick swim in the makai tank. It’s amazing just how much more you float in the Hawaiian sea water. While we were in the tank, I found out first of all that the water spouts that come from the top of the tower (that get turned on every once in a while for the dolphins) are actually spraying fresh water. I can totally see now why the dolphins like to sit under them with their mouths open; it feels quite refreshing. Ellie was at the gate for the whole time we were swimming, waiting for one of us to come by her area I guess. She gave me a quick wave when I went up to the gate (while I was in the water) and gave me that cute straight on look she can give you. I could tell she just wanted to play.
Akeakamai spitting water
I wonder if Elele knows how cute she looks when she looks at you like this?
I wish I could have let her in with us. I guess that’s a little too much to ask, isn't it? =)

Ellie is quickly becoming my favorite dolphin. I can see now why Robin Williams fell in love with her (according to someone at the lab). She’s often coming up to me now whenever I pop my head up past the concrete, poking her rostrum right into my face inviting some attention. I’m not so sure now that the time she bopped me was meant to be an agressive move at all. I talked with a trainer and they told me that the dolphins can have trouble holding a particularly high stance out of the water and she might have been pushing up to reach my face, only she pushed a little too hard. Whatever. She’s so cute. She looks at you like she’s a person, with both her eyes focused right on you even though her eyes are on either side of her head. She really seems to be interested in you compared to Hiapo and Phoenix at least. She could just lye on her side and look at you, but she seems to make an effort to look at you straight on more often than the others do. I really look forward to working with her again.

I’m going to go in sometime tomorrow to help with tank cleaning. That should be interesting.

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