Campus Connection - August 29, 2016

Sandy’s Dolphin Tale

Sandy with a dolphinWe know Sandy Marks taught medical assisting before she became the instructional dean of Health Occupations in 2012.  She also taught communication, but this time, her students were dolphins.

In the early 80s, Sandy joined a volunteer vacation program to teach dolphins communication, offered by the Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment through scientific research and education.

For two weeks, Sandy and four other volunteers spent time at Kewalo Marine Laboratory in Hawaii teaching two bottlenose dolphins, Akeakamai and Phoenix how to communicate. The dolphins were aware of their body parts, names of objects and behaviors, and understood simple sentences.

“So when I say “is there a ball,” the dolphins would press yes or no button to answer my question correctly, and when I say “go through hula hoop,” or “touch ball with flipper,” they would understand and perform the behavior,” said Sandy.

“Still to this day, that was the best vacation I’ve ever had,” she recalls.