Dallas Dolphin Research Program
Have you ever wished to see a wild dolphin thriving in its natural habitat?
Are you curious about how to become a marine biologist?
Are you a middle school student in the Dallas-Fort Worth area?
If so, then our new Dallas Dolphin Research Program may be just for you!
About the Dallas Dolphin Program
This summer Azura Consulting is partnering with the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP) to provide a unique opportunity for kids ages 11-15 to learn about marine biology alongside real marine biologists. We can’t bring wild dolphins to Dallas, but we can escort Dallas kids to dolphins and show them how marine biologists study these animals in their wild, natural habitat. During this 3-week program, you will not only learn about marine mammal ecology in an informal classroom setting, but you will also conduct actual dolphin research with scientists in The Bahamas!
- Learn about marine mammal biology & ecology
- Conduct research on wild dolphins alongside marine biologists
- Learn about and see other marine wildlife including sharks and stingrays
- Experience the history and culture of Bimini in The Bahamas
This program will be led by two experience marine biologists: Kelly Melillo-Sweeting (DCP) and Amy Whitt (Azura). Amy will lead the classroom activities to be conducted in the DFW area prior to the Bimini field trip and will accompany the participants (along with additional chaperones) to Bimini where Kelly will lead the participants in research activities and lessons at DCP’s field site.
Participants must be between the ages of 11 and 13 and be based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They must also be confident swimmers. Research activities will include snorkeling. No previous snorkeling experience required. The parents/guardians of each participant will be required to complete full permission slips and have them notarized prior to beginning the program. Limited spaces are available and are on a first come first served basis. Payment is accepted via check (mailing address to be provided when you register for the program).
We are also looking for parents who want to accompany the group to Bimini and serve as chaperones. Each chaperone will be responsible for his/her own travel and costs of the program.
The price per participant is $1,995 and includes the following:
- Classroom sessions conducted by DCP and Azura scientists in DFW and Bimini
- 5 nights’ hotel accommodation in Bimini
- 5 boat trips to study dolphins, snorkel, and see sharks/stingrays in Bimini
- One-hour snorkeling at mangrove island in Bimini
- 3 meals/day in Bimini (adjusted on arrival and departure day), including drinking water and lemonade
- Boat snacks & drinking water during boat trips
- Rental snorkel gear (if needed)
- Supplies for beach clean-up to be conducted on Bimini
- Transportation from Bimini arrival location (airport or ferry dock) to the hotel on arrival day, then hotel to departure location on departure day
- Gratuity for boat crew and hotel staff
The following is not included in this program price:
- Required: Transportation to/from Bimini (airfare or airfare and ferry)
- Additional meals, snacks, drinks, or souvenirs
The parents of participants will be responsible for booking flights to and from Bimini. Flight information will be provided once participants are registered and program payment has been received. All participants will travel with Azura scientist Amy Whitt and additional chaperones between DFW and Bimini. Valid passports are required for all U.S. citizens; there is no VISA requirement. Other nationals are responsible for meeting researching and meeting entry requirements for The Bahamas.
The Sea Crest Hotel & Marina is in the heart of “downtown” Bimini – quaint, historic Alice Town. Prices are based on double occupancy. Each room has two double beds, en suite bathroom, TV (basic cable), A/C, and partial bay or ocean views. Wi-Fi is available at no charge; however, it can be unreliable.
Food is provided during the Bimini trip. Meals are self-prepared each day, so participants will help to prepare each meal, and clean-up, alongside the chaperones and scientists. All food allergies and dietary restrictions, including vegetarian and lactose intolerance, must be discussed with Amy Whitt prior to registering for the program.
Six classroom sessions will be conducted in the DFW area prior to the Bimini trip tentatively scheduled for 8-13 July 2018. Program schedule and Bimini itinerary are summarized in this table.
To register, please send email with the subject line “Dallas Dolphins” to Amy Whitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is open from now until 15 June 2018 or until spaces are filled.
Meet the Scientists
Mrs. Kelly Melillo-Sweeting is an environmental scientist with over 15 years of experience studying wild Atlantic spotted dolphins and bottlenose dolphins off Bimini in The Bahamas. Born and raised in North Haven, Connecticut, Kel graduated from Connecticut College in 2004 after having spent time living in Australia and attending the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
Always interested in the marine environment, Kel joined the Dolphin Communication Project (DCP) as an undergraduate intern in the summer 2003, which allowed her to combine this interest with her love of traveling and experiencing new cultures. The Bimini field site quickly became her second home. As DCP’s Bimini Research Manager, Kel supports DCP’s mission to promote the scientific study of dolphins and inspire their conservation. She also leads DCP’s research and education programs and enjoys directing DCP’s field courses and supervising DCP’s summer interns on Bimini.
Ms. Whitt has over 14 years of experience in marine mammal research, conservation, and management. Her work focuses on minimizing human impacts to marine species and populations. She specializes in integrating science and policy to solve environmental issues and has conducted a variety of projects around the world from studying whales and dolphins off South America to assessing the occurrence of marine mammals in the Mediterranean Sea.
She earned her Master of Environmental Management (M.E.M.) degree in coastal environmental management from Duke University and her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Lyon College. Ms. Whitt is the Founder and CEO of Azura Consulting LLC, an environmental consulting firm offering a variety of services including natural resource management, professional writing and editing, and educational outreach.
Born and raised in a small, landlocked town in Arkansas, Amy has experienced and overcome many challenges to become a marine scientist and an entrepreneur. She shares her “anything is possible” attitude with youth and the general public in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Not many marine biologists grow up as and continue to live as an inlander. Amy strives to foster environmental stewardship and an excitement for science within her local community via activities that engage students in marine science and mentorship opportunities that empower younger generations to pursue careers in the sciences. During her work with Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas and the University of Texas at Dallas, she has developed marine science curricula for K-12 students and explored methods of adding marine components to existing science outreach projects in our region. She is also an Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Collin College.
Dolphin photos provided by the Dolphin Communication Project