On May 4, Coral World Ocean Park welcomed two coastal Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to their new home at Coral World’s St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary in Water Bay. The dolphins, Cavello and Nola, join the four current residents – Liko, Noelani, Sonny and Ping – that have resided at Coral World since Feb. 20, 2019.
Cavello and Nola belong to the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo. They were born in human care in Bermuda in an ocean environment and have experience with interactive programs. Coral World’s animal welfare specialists have spent months on St. Thomas and with staff in Bermuda to prepare for the dolphins’ transport and arrival. General Curator Lee Kellar and Coral World’s Consulting Veterinarian Dr. Natalie Noll accompanied the dolphins on their flight to St. Thomas to ensure their wellbeing. “It takes a lot of effort to organize and carry out a transport of dolphins. I am glad to say this one went very smoothly,” said Kellar.
Colleen Cornachione, a senior member of the animal welfare team, spent time in Bermuda building a relationship with each of them so they would have a familiar face upon arrival. Cornachione said, “It was wonderful to get to know Cavello and Nola in Bermuda. They have such sweet personalities and love to learn. One of their favorite things to do is swim with their animal welfare specialists. Our staff at Coral World spent a lot of time learning as much as possible about them before their arrival. They can’t wait to join them for a swim in their new home.”
According to Coral World’s Kristine Tartaglio, assistant curator of marine mammals and birds, the specialists are excited to get to know Cavello and Nola better. She observed, “We are really looking forward to the new dynamic that Nola and Cavello will bring to our current social group. Since they have lived all their lives in an ocean environment, I expect them to encourage our four original dolphins to use more of their habitat and benefit from all the stimulation it offers.” Liko, Noelani, Sonny and Ping had little to no exposure to a natural marine habitat before coming to Coral World. As a result, it took some time for each of them to adjust to living among fish, invertebrates, corals and seagrass. Even after two years, some are bolder explorers than others.
Cavello and Nola will spend time in the sanctuary’s specialty areas while they adjust to their new home, but we hope their adjustment will be relatively quick given their experience with a natural marine habitat. Over the next few weeks, Coral World animal welfare specialists will gradually introduce them to their new social group while closely monitoring their transition.
As with the original sanctuary residents, Coral World’s team of animal welfare specialists will work on building strong relationships with Cavello and Nola before they are introduced to Coral World visitors.
The St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary is adjacent to the park’s Dolphin Education Center where daily presentations educate guests about the intelligence and agility of dolphins and the importance of respecting the integrity of the marine ecosystem in which they live. Visitors also learn how their behavior can affect the marine ecosystem.
Coral World is accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, the preeminent accrediting body for zoos, aquariums and marine parks throughout the world that are dedicated to the highest quality of care for marine mammals and to contributing to their conservation in the wild through education and scientific research. Facilities go through a rigorous accreditation process every five years. Coral World was originally accredited in 2015 and was recently reaccredited.