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Wild dolphins in Albuquerque
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In February 2019 our research assistant Georgia Smith accompanied the Dolphin Swim Club’s Marijke & Benno to California to start a collaboration¬†with the Chariot Project in Stanford Children’s Hospital. Georgia is an MSc Human-Animal Interaction student from the University of Stirling (UK), and was provided with a scholarship by SCAS
During her research at Stanford, Georgia came into contact with Melissa Winke.
Melissa is the owner of Dogwood Therapy Services and President of Animal Assisted Intervention International.
She was very interested in her patients swimming with our wild dolphins.
And so Georgia and the dolphins made their way to Albuquerque!

“The dolphins are amazing.¬† I can see the applications for this could be huge for so many people.”

Dogwood works with people with a variety of disabilities, to participate in activities that are meaningful to them regardless of physical, cognitive or psychiatric disabilities. Georgia helped 22 of their patients to experience the virtual wild dolphins. It turned out the be a special day with so much joy!

Wild dolphins in Albuquerque

Georgia prepared a questionnaire about how the children experienced their first encounter with our wild dolphins. And while some of them were initially worried about sharks, they all had a wonderful time.
“You really feel like you are there.”
“The dolphins are cute – I like that the divers are saving us from the sharks.”
“I felt my breathing slow and calm. It made me want to go to a lake where we always used to go to. It brought back memories of that.”

And their reply to the question if they would like to do it again?
“Oh my god, thousand times over, every day!”

Photos courtesy of Melissa Winkle

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