TDI 2001Home124567891011121315fin

Sunday, May 27th, 2001

Today was one of those lazy days where nothing is expected to get accomplished. Just like last Sunday, today the lab is scheduled for "free" training sessions with whomever signs up for it, and they're often quite fun to watch. Nothing else to do, so I might as well go down there. It'll give me a chance to get some other stuff done as well.

I arrived right before the morning session, but there were lots of people around helping out with fish so there wasn't much for me to be doing. Pete, Craig, and Becca were going to be training that session and were in the fish room getting everything ready. Just because I wasn't helping with that stuff doesn't mean I was sitting around, though.

On Friday during the intern's final session with the dolphins,
Pic of hand touch from above
It amazes me how high the dolphins can leap from a stand still(click here for larger image)
I managed to take a ton of pictures of the interns working with each dolphin. I think I actually managed to get every intern with every dolphin, believe it or not. Because of this, I thought a nice thing to do would be to put the pictures on CD for each of them so they had a way to remember the session and remember each dolphin. The lab fortunately has a Cd writer hooked to one of the systems, and I used that to make a CD for each intern who I hadn't already emailed the pictures to. I hope they help them to remember their amazing time here at the lab.

The morning session wasn't anything particularly special, just a bunch of people having fun with the dolphins. I took some video and pictures during the session as always, the highlight definitely being Ake's very enthusiastic jumping around while she played around with her trainer. I guess this was just her weekend! After seeing her high spirits yesterday when I worked with her, I can see now her attitude wasn't just limited to working with me. It's so awesome to see her leap around the tank, over and over again, just because she's having a good time. Her energy is contagious; watching her just lifted my spirits even more.

In my constant attempts to help out where possible, I offered to do be the "gater" for the end of the session. Although it seems like a nothing job, for some reason I had always wanted to do it, and today, I got my chance. To keep Haipo from interfering in the sessions with the girls, the gate will often be closed to keep Haipo seperated from them. That was the case for part of the session today. My job is to wait until all the trainers are ready to give last three fish to the dolphins, which they do by yelling out "I'm ready!" Once they've done this, I unlatch the gate and open it, yell out "Gate open, first fish!", secure the gate to the channel wall with a bungie cord and call out "gate secure, second fish", then double check everything and call out "all clear, last fish", and step away while Hiapo dashes over to get back with the girls (as is usually the case). It seems like nothing, but I still liked doing it even it if didn't mean anything.

Leonard was at the lab the whole day along with me. He's going to Maui tomorrow, so today was his last day at the lab after two months as a participant. I could tell he was feeling a little down about leaving, but that didn't stop him from keeping busy. He discovered a program called iMovie on the computers here at the lab and decided to do a little video for fun. He decided to focus on Craig and his session with Ake, so he took a bunch of footage of the session and spent a good deal of the lunch hour putting together a little video with "Final Countdown" by Europe as the background music. That song was like the theme song for the trip; it all started with Brian whistling it one day at the lab, and getting it stuck in everyone's head (well, Leonard's and mine anyway). Then Leonard downloaded it and started playing it like 5 times a day every time we went up to the tower. I got SO sick of it. Still, it fit the bill for the video and ended up being a perfect length too, so why not use it.

The afternoon session went along smoothly, and was lots of fun to watch. Probably the funniest and most enjoyable thing to watch today was Craig working with Hiapo. He wasn't doing any particular hand signals, he was just playing around with him and generally adlibing the whole time, much like I've seen Robert do with the dolphins. Hiapo generally enjoys sessions like this more than structured sessions (or so it seems to me), but considering how unwilling Haipo usually is to sit at station and follow hand signals, this isn't surprising. He's just plain immature! Craig was great at playing with him; one of the things he'd do was pick up Hiapo's tail, lift it out of the water along with the other half of his body, then drop him into the water again. The most interesting thing about this was that Craig would say "Again!", and sometimes point at his tail, and that was enough for him to know to give Craig his tail to do it again.
Ake with ball in mouth
Ake with a ball during session (click here for larger image)
He reacted quickly to the opportunity too, like he enjoyed it. I guess it would be kinda cool having someone throw you around in the water; I remember having my dad to that to my brother and me in the pool when we were young. We'd love getting thrown through the water like that, so I can see where he's coming from. I'll bet Craig had a fair amount of weight on him too... Hiapo weighs over 400 pounds! Hiapo might not be very interested in a structured session, but he has a certain way about him, almost a child-like quality, that still makes him entertaining to watch and to work with.

Since no one was around to do it, I acted as session monitor and got the second bucket of fish for each of the three trainers when the time came. After I brought Craig his bucket, he asked me if I wanted to give Hiapo a quick hug... you don't have to ask me twice! I stepped up, asked for a quick pec wave, then asked for a hug, and a quick little kiss. Then I told him I was getting down and I stepped down, my day all the more brightened thanks to that quick little interaction.

After session, the lab became like a ghost town. I handed out my Cds to all the interns who were there that day before they took off and made sure to tell them to tell the others about the photos too.The only one I'm not so sure about was for Tonja, who didn't come in today and hadn't spoken with me about if she'd be back to get it. Oh well, I'm sure someone will get it to her. A few people stuck around and hung out in the front Lanai while Leonard and I were up in the tower playing Unreal Tournament and working on Leonard's video. It started to get dark out, and we started to worry about maybe missing the last bus, but neither of us particularly cared. For Leonard, this was his last night here. We played with the dolphins, who seemed particularly interested in doing so tonight, including some buoy play and just socialising at the side of the tank. Phoenix and Ake were whistling and waving at us the whole night when we went outside, and Leonard had a short play session with Phoenix with a buoy suspended from the tower by a rope.
Geoff and a few of the other participants went to a park today and snapped a few pictures (click here for larger image)
She'd come over and hit it with her head, he'd swing it back towards her, and she'd hit it again. She was whistling and clicking at it, just having a good time, while Ake played around with an eggbutt buoy I had put in the tank for her and Hiapo swam around with an orange Cone on the end of his face. I tried to play with Haipo with the cone, but he just sort of sat there and just wanted to move it around on his rostrum.A few times I had one of the dolphins, maybe Hiapo, come up to the window and open their mouth at me. I'm still trying to figure out that one. I doubt very much it was an agressive sign, because it's not followed by a head jerk or a squak, and they seem to be playing when they do it. I think they're trying to say they're hungry, but it could also easily mean a ball or something. Hiapo's did this last week with me immediately after I removed a ball from the tank and stepped away, so that could be what it is. Unfortunately, there currently aren't any balls that we're allowed to put in the tank after session, so they had to be content to play window games and such with Leonard and me.

After a few hours of on and off playing with the dolphins and playing around on the computers, we packed up and caught the last bus towards the townhouse to get some dinner and start packing up. I can't believe this is ending already! I'm still coming into the lab tomorrow to offer a hand to the limited amount of staff that's going to be there. According to the sign up sheet, the only person signed up is Mike in the afternoon, so I'm sure they'd welcome an extra set of hands to help out.

<- Previous Next ->


All written articles, pictures, and movies contained in this page are © Rob Harrison, unless otherwise noted.

You may use the pictures and content from this page for school and personal use ONLY. Please feel free to use the pictures as your desktop background, in school projects, or give them to friends, as long as they are unmodified. The material on this site is NOT permitted to be used on other websites or for comercial use without written permisson from Rob Harrison.

Feel free to email me if you have ANY questions or comments, and be sure to sign my guestbook!