Learning from each other By Frank Oliver Hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, in the middle of all this corn and soybeans, you can drive down Interstate 65 and interact with one of the most fascinating of all sea creatures. Emily Akard, Rachel Beale and Mike Haskett (from left) learn about the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin from Lisa Oland. Dolphins breathe through a single blowhole located near the top of the head. They need to breathe about every two minutes but can hold their breath for several minutes. Dolphin In-Water Adventure started this past September at the Indianapolis Zoo. Nine Atlantic bottlenose dolphins reside there and are used in the 90-minute classroom and hands-on experience.
The creatures seem incurably happy and eager to show their skills to wide-eyed humans who don wet suits and climb into waist-deep water for the educational experience. In the wild, bottlenose dolphins live in pods of up to 12 whales and are very social. Sometimes pods form congregations numbering in the hundreds. Dolphins can dive down to more than 1,000 feet and can jump up to 20 feet out of the water. Emily Akard turned 15 in August. Her father, Jeff, made this birthday one that the Frankfort High School freshman will never forget. “It was perfect,” Emily said. As long as she can remember she’s wanted to be a marine biologist, and the experience certainly helped deepen that feeling, she said. “I was surprised how they paid attention and the tricks they could do,” Emily said. Participants are taught hand commands, and the dolphins respond, seemingly smiling the whole time.