Our Research Team

Dolphin Communication Analytics

Dr. Mark R. Turner – I received my masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania where my research focused on computational aspects of neuroscience. In particular I developed models of visual information processing in the mammalian brain that described possible purposes for the wavelet-like structure of receptive fields in the primary visual cortex. These computational models replicated human psychophysical findings in texture discrimination and the perception of (and, unexpectedly, illusions involved in the perception of) textured surfaces. Thereafter I was a consultant at J.P. Morgan (International Bond Research) on Wall Street and the Philadelphia Stock Exchange (option pricing and trading systems), followed by a position as Vice President, Advanced Analytics for Ashton Technology Group, a small financial trading systems company. My current research interests focus on the mechanisms through which non-identity semantic information may be encoded in the vocalizations of dolphins and other cetaceans. I believe that this research may allow the development of systems to extract and identify this information in real time, and possibly facilitate simple bidirectional exchanges with dolphins. Some of my research publications can be found here.

Cynthia Turner, J.D. - My research area involves studying the meaning of dolphin communications including those from physical behaviors and vocalizations. I am now primarily investigating whether or not their whistles communicate meaningful information to each other, beyond conveying identity as in “signature whistles.”  I previously designed and directed a research study of the production of dolphin bubble spheres (“surprise bubbles”) in reaction to novel enrichments. Here are some photos of a couple of the enrichments I made called “The Chimp Parade” and “Alien Trash Can and Baby,” (see the dolphin reactions here), a video of me popping bubble wrap for two dolphins and a radio interview about the study.  I also co-authored a note published in Marine Mammal Science with Mark. In 1988 I received my juris doctor degree and passed the Pennsylvania bar exam. I practice law with a strong emphasis on out of court settlements which I wholeheartedly believe are almost always better for participants. Now, most of my time is spent on our research of dolphin communications. It is truly rewarding and I feel fortunate to be a part of this.

Our Collaborators at

Dolphin Adventure

Alexandra Hertlein - I got my degree on Simultaneous Translation in Heidelberg, Germany in 2010 and after finishing my studies I decided to move back to Mexico. I always wanted to work open-doors and suddenly, in a very unexpected way, my life took me to experience my true passion in life of working with dolphins.

In 2013 I started working with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and later with Sea Lions in Switzerland. For the last 2 years I have been working for Dolphin Adventure and learning from Mila and Eva’s behavior, being their main trainer. Both of them have been the thrill of my life, giving me the amazing chance to learn not only about animal behavior but the amazing world of dolphin communication.

Benjamin Doshner - I was born in Guadalajara J. México. I studied Oceanography for one year in the UABC (Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Mexico) before starting my professional carrier as a marine mammal specialist in 1996. During my career, I had the opportunity to travel to several places around the world, work side by side with amazing people and wonderful animals, such as birds, primates, land mammals, felines, and mainly marine mammals.

Currently, I’m working as Assistant Manager of Dolphin Adventure, Puerto Vallarta México, helping with the training of the staff, animal medical care, animal welfare (environmental enrichment) and making sure our interactive programs are safe, educational and fun for guests and dolphins.

I’m an active member on the rescue of stranded animals (States of Mexico Nayarit and Jalisco) and whale disentanglement (RABEN), and I love to scuba dive (PADI Advance and Rescue).

Over the course of my career, I have had the honor to share in the teamwork of several training projects presented in IMATA (International Marine Animal Training Association); I actively participated in education, conservation and several research projects.

Eva - Eva’s name means “To Give Life” in Hebrew. She was born on June 20th 2010. Eva’s father is Bodine and her mother is Tinda. Tinda lives at Dolphin Adventure so Eva sees her mother often.  Bodine is from Sea World San Diego. Eva was conceived as part of a scientific conservation project shared by Dolphin Adventure and Sea World, the goal of which is to help preserve endangered species.

Eva is described as always looking for and enjoying attention from her trainer. She seems to prefer that her trainer pay more attention to her than the other dolphins. She “messes around” with the trainers as she has a very playful spirit, just like her friend, Mila. Her favorite toy is a basketball and she loves it when her trainer rubs her tongue.

 

Juan Carlos Martínez - For the last 19 years I have been working in the field of animal behavior. I have been a successful trainer, supervisor and mentor in many parts of Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. I am passionate about training new Marine Mammal Specialists that have the same passion for the animals and behavior as I do, instilling in them the important role that zoological facilities play in the modern world. I also enjoy working on research projects that not only help us to learn about these amazing animals, but also are enriching for the animals involved.

 

Mila - Mila’s name means “Love of the People” in Russian. She was born on August 15th 2006. Her father is Amizcle and her mother is Shany. She is described as being a very smart dolphin who quickly learns new behaviors. She is very athletic and has a very playful spirit. She frequently chooses to play with the baby dolphins and one of her favorite toys is the noodle. She loves it when her trainer rubs the corners of her mouth.

 

Wayne Phillips - After graduating from Griffith University, Queensland, Australia I entered the marine mammal world and have been an active member in that community for almost 30 years. I started my career at Sea World Australia and have worked with and managed marine mammals in 6 countries, developing animal care and training programs that provide the highest level of animal welfare.

I am currently the General Manager of Dolphin Adventure and Cabo Dolphins, marine mammal interactive facilities in Mexico. I lead large teams of passionate staff who provide a hands-on, fun, educating experience in order to touch the hearts and minds of its participants, hoping to inspire change in their everyday lives that will care for the planet.

I am very active in sea lion rescue and rehabilitation. One of our proudest accomplishments at Dolphin Adventure was the collaborative effort by many for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of a  particular young male California sea lion.  When this sea lion was found he was stranded, quite sick and blind. In order to live, he required our medical care at Dolphin Adventure.  He eventually recovered to the point of very good health although his sight could not be restored.  A  careful analysis of his capacity for a successful release and the appropriate location given his blindness was performed. He was a good candidate and released back into the wild where he continues to thrive as of our last sighting. I coauthored a scientific paper about this which can be found here. This rescue also added to scientific knowledge of the importance of very sensitive whiskers in blind sea lions as well as other conditions for their successful release.

I am dedicated to the ideal of zoological facilities as conservation, animal welfare, research and education centers for the modern world.

Dolphin Adventure

"It is the aim at Dolphin Adventure to provide the highest level of Animal Care and Customer Service while educating our guests through exciting interactive encounters. We want every guest to walk away in awe of these amazing creatures, with an appreciation of the fragile world that we all live in and knowing the important role that zoos and aquariums play in promoting biodiversity and the conservation of this planet.” 

Dolphin Adventure, S.A. de CV, was started in 1997 as an interactive facility with Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and, later, South American sea lions (Otariaflavescens).

Thanks to a dedication to learning and a never-ending development of veterinary care and animal welfare, Dolphin Adventure recorded its first birth of a Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in 2001. Since then we have had around 30 successful births of both our dolphin and sea lion species. Our animal care practices extend past reproduction. Our medical team is comprised of on-site experts and consulting specialists from all over the world. We are an active member in the marine mammal medical world with hundreds of years of accumulated experience.

The health and wellbeing of our animals is our priority and they are treated with the greatest respect at all times. The type of training techniques utilized is based on having a trusting relationship with the individual animal, using positive reinforcement training. This is a crucial part of the life of dolphins under managed care and Dolphin Adventure recognizes Animal Training as a significant form of Enrichment for its marine mammal family. Our training programs are award-winning, with Dolphin Adventure being recognized at the highest level by its peers at the International Marine Animal Training Association (IMATA) meetings over the past decade.

In 2008, in line with our dedication to the environment, Dolphin Adventure entered into a voluntary environmental audit program and became the first Environmental Quality Tourism Company issued by the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA). This certification ensures we meet the highest national environmental operating standards.

As part of our mission to conserve and educate, Dolphin Adventure is an active member of the marine animal stranding network for the coastal states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. In coordination with PROFEPA (Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection), SEMARNAT, CONANP, Civil Protection, Navy Department and the Technological Institute of Banderas Bay, we actively help wild animals in need. Dolphin Adventure has attended over 30 Dolphin and Sea Lion rescues. In some cases, Dolphin Adventure has become the home for several sea lions that could not be re-released after rescue and rehabilitation. Dolphin Aventure also participates as a member of the local Whale Disentanglement Network (RABEN) in coordination with the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and Whale Ecology and Conservation (ECOBAC). We operate as trained experts for this interagency project to perform disentanglement rescues on large whales found entangled in fishing gear.

Dolphin Adventure is recognized by our community for its high corporate social involvement. We have provided endless nonprofit activities such as:

Educational programs for students of various educational levels in order to teach them about the importance of marine mammals

Dolphin swim for children from orphanages

Dolphin swims for underprivileged children

Dolphin interactions for children with special needs

Dolphin swims for terminally ill children accompanied by their families

Provided whale watching trips attended by underprivileged children

Donations of food for the Animal Collection Center for dogs and cats rescued from the street

Donation of several company tours to charity associations in order for them to raise money