“Welcome to the Conch Republic!” said the cheery, cheesy banner at the Key West airport. Claire and I landed in the Keys right about 3:00pm yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. The weather was a balmy 76 degrees, a welcome change from the freezing conditions at Westtown! Unfortunately, that balminess translated into on-and-off rain showers all day today, so after we went through an orientation session, we spent the majority of our day at DRC outside being drizzled on. All is well, though, as the forecast for the rest of the week predicts clear skies. =]
Now that I’ve been through a full day, I can give you a better idea of our daily duties. Claire and I start off the day by sweeping off the submerged platforms on which visitors stand when participating in a Dolphin Encounter. Depending on who is given what duty, we sometimes have the responsibility of feeding the tropical birds in the morning. After that, we help out wherever is needed, observing various dolphin encounters and assisting the trainers who run them. We also have the opportunity to structure our day so that we can watch seminars and workshops, or pull research material from DRC’s library. We have lunch around noon, where we eat with the rest of the volunteers and interns. Our next scheduled duty is giving the birds their afternoon snack, around 2:00pm. We then continue helping with dolphin activities until we return to the birds to clean out their dishes as well as the floor of the entire avian hut, at about 4:00pm. We collect trash and recycling from around the grounds and finish up any other tasks that need to be done and leave around 4:30pm.
Overall, it’s a pretty laid-back atmosphere, but everyone at the DRC takes even the smallest responsibility seriously. I’ve set a personal, albeit somewhat silly goal for myself: be able to identify each of DRC’s 20 dolphins by the end of my two weeks! Take a look at Jax, my first identified dolphin. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with the birds and dolphins and hopefully the next couple of days will be sunny and warm!
Thanks for reading!