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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | September 2007 

Vallarta Adventures Maternity Ward
email this pageprint this pageemail usLaura Gelezunas - PVNN


A captive dolphin birth is a rare event but over the last eight years, the Dolphin Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta has welcomed the birth of more than 10 dolphin babies, and they're expecting more than one new arrival before the end of the year.
UPDATE: Vallarta Adventures is celebrating the arrival of the newest member of their dolphin family, Naui. Weighing in at 20 kilos and measuring 1.2 meters long, she was born at the Dolphin Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta on September 3rd at 11:20 pm. Click HERE to learn more.

The Dolphin Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta is a hugely popular tourist attraction, which started offering interactive programs to the general public back in 1996. The series of pools, located on the Pacific Ocean's doorstep in the heart of Nuevo Vallarta's Marina, feature a state of the art filtration system and a team of dedicated trainers and veterinary staff to guarantee the best possible environment for the more than 25 dolphins that live there.

It also presents the team with an ideal opportunity to collect accurate information on breeding and other behaviors in a safe and natural setting. In fact, one of the most important aspects of Dolphin Adventures' success is the center's "medical training" program, which involves teaching the dolphins to assist the medical staff in taking necessary samples without unnecessary handling.

After a great many hours of work, the dolphin/trainer relationship achieved is one of mutual understanding, with the dolphin assisting in the medical examinations by doing everything from voluntarily presenting their flukes for blood collection and analysis and opening their mouths for insertion of an endoscope to expectant Moms eagerly bellying up to the sonogram machine.

The medical data collected from these tests help the medical staff with various research projects and have been a contributing factor to the success of the dolphin center's breeding program. A captive dolphin birth is a rare event, but through blood and progesterone samples, Dolphin Adventures' team of vets can tell whether a dolphin is pregnant or not.

Since initiating the medical training program, the Dolphin Adventure Center has welcomed the birth of more than 10 dolphin babies, and they're expecting more than one new arrival before the end of the year.

A dolphin's gestation period lasts for 12 months, so during this time sonograms are performed twice a month - but during the last month, moms are scanned once a week. The pregnant dolphins learn what is expected of them and turn their tummies up to make it easier for the vet to get an up close and personal look at the calf's development.

For example, Shani, a female who has lived at the dolphin center for more than 10 years, is 12 months pregnant and due to deliver before the end of September 2007. Using the center's latest equipment, Dolphin Adventure Veterinarian Paola Smolemsky gives us a sneak peek at the meter-long baby dolphin developing in her womb.

"This dolphin baby is big, so it's easy to pick out specific body parts," say Paola, "You can see the skull, and if you see the white part, that's the blubber layer, the neck, the ribs, and the beating heart of the baby, it is really amazing."

Paola has been tending to Vallarta Adventures' dolphins for over eight years, and even after having helped bring 10 babies into their intricate underwater world, she still gets excited when there are expectant mothers at the center.

Expectant mothers are also given special treatment. "We give them extra vitamins, some extra calcium, some extra folic acid," says Paola, "We start raising the diet slowly, so at the end they are eating pretty good. They need the extra weight and calories for birth."

At present, there are two other expectant dolphins in the maternity ward, Jashui at 11 months and Dali at two months. On average, dolphins are in labor anywhere between 30 minutes to three hours. After the baby is born, the dolphin center's nursery tank offers mom and baby the perfect environment for bonding, nursing and spending uninterrupted time together.

All the dolphins born here stay right here at the Dolphin Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta. The dolphin names are selected by the trainers. The names are usually indigenous, either Nahuatl or Huichol, and describe the personality of the dolphin. For example, Shani means respect and was chosen to reflect her peaceful ways - not because she likes to sing Aretha Franklin songs.

This link will take you a list of the Vallarta Adventure dolphin family tree, and provide you with their names and their translations: click HERE.

Due to the growth of the center's dolphin family, plans are already being made for the construction of additional maternity pools with special life support systems for expectant mothers and recently born dolphins. These new pools are expected to be completed by the end of 2008, and we will keep you posted about the new arrivals.

If you want to learn more about swimming with dolphins, experiencing the thrill of being a Trainer for a Day or enjoying any one of the number of dolphin programs that Dolphin Adventures offers, visit Vallarta-Adventures.com or call 1-888-303-2653 toll-free from the U.S. and Canada for more information and reservations.

UPDATE: Vallarta Adventures is celebrating the arrival of the newest member of their dolphin family, Naui. Weighing in at 20 kilos and measuring 1.2 meters long, she was born at the Dolphin Adventure Center in Nuevo Vallarta on September 3rd at 11:20 pm. Click HERE to learn more.
After having spent 10 years in the world of US broadcast news, Laura Gelezunas decided to unleash her skills on Puerto Vallarta by opening Video Diva Productions, a full-service, professional digital video company. Whether you're interested in a sales video, WEBmercial, music video, feature story, documentary, or corporate event video coverage, she has the experience, equipment and talent to coordinate a professional production. For more information, visit her website at VideoDivaProductions.com.



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