We woke up to this beautiful view at the Ocean Pointe Suites in Key Largo.
We hopped into our Toyota Highlander and drove past the pool on our way out of the resort.
We knew that there was no way we would be able to see even a quarter of the Florida Keys on this trip, so we did our best to pack in a couple top attractions for the kids that would also be educational and entertaining.
Our schedule looked like this:
- Glass bottom boat ride over the coral reef.
- Snorkeling over the coral reef.
- Tour of the turtle hospital.
- Tour of the Dolphin Research Center.
Out of all those things we were only able to tour the Dolphin Research Center and eat.
Totally not how we had planned, but if being across the country and on the road for almost three weeks has taught us anything, it is that you have to be flexible… and that Florida storms are real.
We were rained out of snorkeling and the boat ride. By rained out, I mean torrential downpours of water, severe lightning, and very strong winds. After a couple moments of disappointment, we regrouped, and at the suggestion of some locals, we flipped our itinerary around and tried to free up some afternoon time in case the skies cleared and we could do more later.
We stopped in the Dolphin Research Center first. Unfortunately, they were closed due to the lightening, but offered to keep in touch with us in case it was lifted. About an hour and a half later it was… so we made our way back. There was a small window when we could go out onto the docks and see the dolphins! We are so fortunate for that time!
The whole center is geared around research. Actually, the whole center is geared around the resident dolphins and their welfare. Having worked at both a zoo (as a junior zoo keeper) and animal hospitals before I had kids, I am always interested in the latest developments for animal care, and I was thrilled to see the commitment that this center has for their dolphins and educating the public. The education they provide is creating more dolphin lovers in the world and the impact is far reaching!
The Dolphin Research Center Mission – Through education, research and rescue, Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment we share with the well being of DRC’s animals taking precedence.
Here is more about the Dolphin Research Center… “founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1984 by Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez and Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez. Their goal was to ensure the dolphins had a home here for life, and in doing so to establish a unique education and research facility.
The bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions presently living here provide a range of personalities and backgrounds. Over half of our family was born at the Center, while the other members have either come from other facilities or were rescued, rehabilitated and deemed unreleasable back into the wild by the Government and now have a forever home at Dolphin Research Center.”
We started by exploring the center and watching the fun loving sea lions. We also saw some resident visitors…
After that the dolphins were calling. Seriously, we could hear their chatter and we followed all the talking.
The dolphin above was actually talking through a drain to the dolphins on the other side. They are such intelligent creatures.
The skies were still really dark with clouds, but I still love this picture facing the gulf side.
Throughout the day they offer discussions and educational experiences where they show and teach behaviors to both the audience and the dolphins. We were able to learn about their care and how they learn from them, and teach them new things.
They offer some VIP options to become more immersed in the center through college programs and camps, and also day programs where you can interact with the dolphins.
The dolphins were so intrigued by us too. I’m not sure who was more interested in who. They all came up and circled us to see who we were and we loved talking to them.
We all learned so much and left with even more respect for dolphins and those that are working hard to educate us all about them.
After seeing the dolphins, we headed back to the Turtle Hospital. Unfortunately we were not able to experience this on our visit this time, but we will definitely visit on our next trip. Emmy was so disappointed over this as she had done extensive research before our visit, and I of course wanted to be able to share this with you all, but the rain just didn’t cooperate. We did step into the office and found that interesting with educational resources there…
After that, we stopped for sandwiches and then headed back to the resort. We packed up for our next stop back in Orlando and a day of fun hosted by Universal Orlando! There are so many choices of places to eat along the keys so you definitely won’t go hungry! We saw everything from Italian to seafood and everything in between.
Even with heavy rain, the keys were still beautiful… we can’t wait to come back later this year and go deeper down to Key West!