Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are actively receptive towards humans, and it has been suggested that they are one of the only known wild animals that will seek out human contact (Smith, 1987). The swim-with-dolphins program at Dolphins Plus Research Center allows authorized paying customers the opportunity to swim and interact with dolphins (Smith, Borguss, Borguss, & Borguss, 1987). In order to better understand dolphin interactional preferences for specific types of individuals and the effect of the swim program on participants' mood states, the present study was conducted. Four questions were addressed concerning human-dolphin interactions: First, was there a specific age group that received more interaction as determined by self-report? Second, was there a specific gender that received more interaction as determined by self-report? Third, when addressing information pertaining to general dolphin attention (as measured by a 7-point Likert scale) did gender and/or age influence how much attention participants reported? Fourth, what effect did the swim-with-dolphins program have on participants' mood state? Results indicated that, in general, the dolphins interacted on a high physical level with individuals in the youngest age category (10-14). When specific interactions, such as pushing, game-playing, and nuzzling were considered, the dolphins revealed gender preferences. Dolphins who engaged in nuzzling and pushing appeared to prefer females for such activities. Conversely, male participants were preferred over female participants for active game-playing behavior. Statistical analyses performed on the data involving information obtained by Likert scale revealed that age, not gender, was significantly related to the participant's perception of general dolphin attention. The results suggested that participants in age category 10-14 reported significantly more attention than did participants in all the other age categories. In turn, participants in age categories 20-29 and 30-39 reported significantly more attention than did participants in age category 50-90. The swim-with-dolphins program at Dolphins Plus Research Center appeared to effect the mood states of individuals in age categories 20-29, 30-39, and 40-49. Significant increases from pre-swim mood states to post-swim mood states were reported by these subjects.
|Publisher||Emporia State University|
|Degree||Master of Science|
|University||Emporia State University|
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