CARMMHA hosted its first Dolphin Health Educational Workshop at the Girl Scout Headquarters in San Diego, CA!

CARMMHA scientists and educators reached overĀ 40 girls along with their parents from around San Diego at our very first Dolphin Health Workshop. The workshop began with a brief presentation on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its effect on the environment. Specifically, we focused on the health and significance of the wild dolphin population in the Gulf of Mexico. We felt that it was important to introduce the spill starting at a very basic level because some of our youngest attendees had not even been born when it happened in 2010. After introducing our team, we split into three age groups and rotated through our exciting hands-on activities.

Measurements are a key data point for tracking the growth and health of dolphins in the wild.
Measurements provide key data points for tracking the growth and health of dolphins in the wild.

We developed a mock dolphin health assessment activity in which we rescue an inflatable dolphin and proceed through a complete medical checkup, just as our team conducts in the field with wild dolphins! The health assessment included an ultrasound, body measurements, x-rays, and satellite tagging!

NMMF Veterinarian, Dr. Barb Linnehan demonstrating a dolphin blood sample collection.

Our dolphin fin matching card game is designed to teach students how we identify individual dolphins by notches, nicks, and unique markings on their dorsal fin and how we track them long term. Each card features a real dolphin and highlights interesting details about its life history.

Each card features a real dolphin and highlights interesting details about its life history.
Each fin matching card features a real dolphin and highlights interesting details about its life history.

Lastly, we taught students about the chemistry of oil, water, and dispersants, highlighting the effects of oil on wildlife using the Enviroscape. Students used various materials to try to “clean up” a spill and learn how difficult it can be!

CARMMHA Educator Celeste Parry teaching local Girlscouts about the impacts of pollution on our ecosystems.
CARMMHA Educator Celeste Parry teaching local Girl Scouts about the impacts of pollution on our ecosystems.

We ended the workshop with a group activity called the Bioaccumulation Relay, which shows how toxins in the environment can be amplified as they move up through the food chain. These toxins can be found in high levels in top predators like dolphins.

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If you are interested in hosting a similar workshop in your community, be sure to check out the Education & Outreach section of this website to download everything you need to do it yourself! We’ve posted our presentation, worksheets, and a Guide for Educators HERE!