Dolphin Doctor

Dolphin Doctor Workshop

Dolphin Doctor Workshop

On the Front Lines of Marine Mammal Medicine

Our Dolphin Doctor workshop focuses on marine mammal medical research and technology and introduces students to ocean-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) principles. In this workshop, students are guided through an interactive mock dolphin health assessment, explore the field of marine mammal bioacoustics, and learn how scientists can use sound to help care for marine mammals.

From conducting health assessments with trained dolphins to working alongside wild pods, our team is dedicated to marine mammal care. Learn from our experts at our exciting workshops!

Let's Dive in! Discover the Online Doctor Dolphin Workshop

NEW! The NMMF now offers a web-based introductory course on marine mammal veterinary medicine for students of all ages. Like the in-person Dolphin Doctor workshop, the virtual course includes information on:

  • Dolphin and sea lion anatomy, physiology, and adaptations to the marine environment
  • Veterinary health exam process
  • Conservation issues that affect wild marine mammals around the world

Each lesson includes a video, written course material, and other optional activities such as printable worksheets and coloring pages, with information for teachers on alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

The course and associated materials can be used independently at home, or they can be used by teachers in a classroom setting as part of their lessons. The course was developed with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) as part of their efforts to build STEAM educational pathways.

Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Sam Ridgway

The Dolphin Doctor workshop is a project that recognizes the lifetime work of Dr. Sam Ridgway, the original Dolphin Doctor and founder of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. Dr. Ridgway is often referred to as the ‘father of marine mammal medicine’ due to his pioneering spirit and ground-breaking discoveries that advanced the health and welfare of dolphins, porpoises, whales, sea lions, and seals.

You can learn about some of Dr. Ridgway’s work via the Dr. Sam Ridgway’s Interactive StoryFile Experience. This unique interactive online experience allows you to have one-on-one virtual chat with the Dolphin Doctor himself and learn about his marine mammal experiences through the years.

Dolphin Doctor Workshop Resources

Pre-K through 5th Grade Resources

Pre-K – 5th. Workbook coincides with lessons learned in the Dolphin Doctor workshop. 

Pre-K – 5th. Learn about the anatomy of dolphins and sea lions.

NGSS Alignment 2-LS4-1: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Pre-K – 5th. Complete a dolphin health assessment and critical thinking exercise. 

NGSS Alignment 2-LS4-1: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Pre-K – 5th. Create a Sea Lion paper doll while you learn about the physical characteristics of sea lions.

NGSS: 4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Pre-K – 5th. Create a Dolphin paper doll while you learn about the physical characteristics of dolphins.

NGSS: 4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Pre-K – 5th Grade. A fun coloring sheet that lets you imagine yourself as a Dolphin Doctor! 

3rd – 8th Grade. Learn about how dolphins produce sounds and analyze sound waves.

NGSS:  4-LS1-2. Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.

Middle - High School Resources

Grades: 6-12. Workbook coincides with lessons learned in the Dolphin Doctor workshop.

Grades: 6-12 Analyze graphs and think critically about data related to dolphin population sizes.

NGSS: HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.

All Grades

Grades: All. Interactive website. Did you know that we can learn a lot about how animals are feeling just by listening to them? Discover how dolphins communicate and how monitoring communication over time can reveal the health and well-being of marine mammals.​

Grades: All. Learn what to do (and not to do!) if you find a sick or injured animal on the beach.

Grades: All. Use what you’ve learned in the Dolphin Doctor workshop to complete a crossword puzzle.

Grades: All. You can study anything and work with marine mammals! Read about the various pathways and discover how you can pursue a career in the field of marine mammal science and conservation.

Educator Resources

The guide for educators outlines the resources and materials needed to teach the Dolphin Doctor workshop at home or in the classroom.

Powerpoint Presentation for the Dolphin Doctor Workshop

A Look into Wild Dolphin Health Assessments

Narrated by Matt Damon, “Dispatches from the Gulf: The Dolphins of Barataria Bay, Part 1 & 2,” offers a captivating glimpse into the lives of dolphins of Barataria Bay in Louisiana, a region deeply impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This remarkable documentary showcases the intricate interactions and resilience of these marine mammals while also highlighting the human-driven challenges that have affected their population. 

Reading Recommendations

Interested in learning more? Check out these great books!

Author: Leah Henseler & Christine Hensele

Do you want to get involved in marine conservation, but you’re not sure which path to take? This book compiles the unique experiences of 22 professionals from over 14 countries around the world, with the hope of providing you with a guide to enter an expansive field in untraditional ways. ​

The NMMF outreach team contributed two chapters to this book:

  • Confidently Embrace the Unknown, by Brittany Novick
  • Bringing Together New Tools in Marine Mammal Science Education, by Celeste Parry

Get in Touch

Ready to learn more? Whether you’re interested in scheduling a live workshop, exploring our online courses, or seeking additional information, our Community Engagement team is eager to hear from you.