Meet our Team
Hi, my name is Amanda and I am a trainer here at Dolphins Plus. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Key West, Florida to attend college. After graduating in 2018 I received my first internship in the field right here at Dolphins Plus! I went on to complete an internship at DPMMR and Island Dolphin Care here in Key Largo after which I moved to Panama City Beach, Florida where I accepted my first trainer position at Gulf World Marine Park. I was immediately missing the Keys so when an opportunity came up to return I accepted a trainer position at Island Dolphin Care in 2020. Two years later I was granted an interview with Animal Care and Training team at Dolphins Plus and graciously accepted their offer to become a full time trainer. Four years later I was back where it all began! I have dreamed of being a dolphin trainer since I was a little girl so to be able to live in the magical Florida Keys and have my dream job is something I’m grateful for everyday!
Hi, my name is Anna and I am a trainer here at Dolphins Plus. I am from the great state of Texas where I graduated with a major in psychology and a minor in biology from A & M University of Corpus Christi. When in college, I was lucky enough to get my first internship at Texas State Aquarium. Upon graduation, I attained a trainer position there. It wasn’t until my best friend Tara moved to Key Largo to be a trainer here at Dolphins Plus that I decided to do the same and follow my dreams. I am proud to say I am living out my dream that I have wanted and worked for since I was a girl!
Assistant Director of Research
Learning about the ocean and advancing marine mammal science is my passion! My fascination with dolphins began early, with a visit to SeaWorld and from that day forward I was captivated. Although raised in beautiful Colorado, I always ventured to the ocean, from family vacations to schooling. I journeyed to California to obtain my Bachelor of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology. Between degree programs, I had an opportunity to intern at Island Dolphin Care, which further drove my passion to learn more about the species. After returning to California to further my education in Animal Behavior, I was offered the coveted position of working with the animals at Dolphins Plus Oceanside. Hired as an animal care staff in early 2001, my dreams of working with these amazing creatures were fulfilled. Learning proper care, training, and building relationships with the population took time, which I was more than willing to invest. During my first year, I had the pleasure of working with dolphins such as Fonzie, Squirt, Isla, and in the fall of 2001, I was placed with LB, Ding, and their son Cosmo. Over the next several months, I learned that training three dolphins simultaneously was challenging, but with proper training, I was able to be a part of their dynamic team and we worked harmoniously together. For over a decade, I have been one of LB and Ding’s (and their calves: Cosmo, Kai, Julie, BB) primary trainers. During this time, I developed amazing relationships with these animals, and learned more about animal behavior and myself than I ever dreamt possible. A few years into my career, my yearning to learn more about the animals became the driving force for advancing my education. While working full time at Dolphins Plus Oceanside, I acquired my M.S. and Ph.D. in Research Psychology and became the Assistant Director of Research. Through my schooling and mentors, I gained the knowledge to derive appropriate research methodologies, proper sampling techniques, and the means to analyze findings with statistics. Through my evolution of wanting to work with dolphins and desire to learn more about their behavior, communication, cognitive abilities, and how they perceive their world, I realized that learning more about our population of animals, contributing to the existing body of literature, and educating the public is crucial to protecting and furthering our understanding of the species. My passion for advancing marine mammal science is fueled daily by numerous non-invasive, independent investigations at Dolphins Plus Oceanside, including marine mammal development, social dynamics, communication, acoustic development, cognition, and conservation, as well as by serving on multiple graduate student committees (Masters, Ph.D.). I am blessed to live my dream working with and studying the species, and embrace the role of scientist, educator, and caretaker.
Dolphins Plus offers a unique opportunity to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, interested in obtaining practical experience in the marine mammal training field. Interns work both in groups and individually with our professional animal trainers, animal care staff, and research scientists in all aspects of day-to-day facility operations.
Hello, my name is Jenna and I am a part time trainer here at Dolphins Plus. Ever since I can remember, I have had a tremendous passion, dedication and love for marine life. I am originally from Saint Louis, Missouri so for the majority of my life I was landlocked. Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to travel with my family at a young age. It was my first experience with the ocean that I became hooked. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on the ocean, wiggled my toes in the sand, and saw my first dolphin jumping along side our boat during an excursion that this was the career path I wanted to pursue. This career path was solidified after my first trip to SeaWorld San Diego when I was about 6 years old. I remember looking up at my parents and saying, "I want to be a dolphin trainer when I get older." From that point on, I have focused my entire life on making this dream a reality. I later moved away from home and attended The University of Tampa where I graduated with my B.S. in Marine Science-Biology and minors in Chemistry and Environmental Science. During my college career, I traveled to South Africa where I studied great white sharks as well as their local marine mammal populations. After graduating and completing another shark related internship, I moved to Key Largo to continue my journey of becoming a dolphin trainer. I became part of the Dolphins Plus family first as a Guest Service Agent and later as an intern. I completed an internship first at Island Dolphin Care and then at Dolphins Plus working with their Atlantic bottlenose dolphin populations. After completing both internships, I began working once again as a Guest Service Agent at Dolphins Plus. A few months later, I was offered a part-time trainer position and of course I accepted! I am one step closer to becoming a full-time dolphin trainer and fulfilling my ultimate dream. I am beyond excited to continue my journey as a trainer with my Dolphins Plus family and am happy to get the opportunity to learn from their truly amazing, talented, and knowledgeable staff! It has been a long time coming, but the wait was dolphinately worth it!
DIrector of Training
Greetings from Key Largo, Florida! My Name is Jessica and I have been a marine mammal trainer since 2004. I am originally from Pennsylvania, and worked my way through college at the Arc of Northeastern PA in Scranton. This agency provides many different services to adults with special needs including vocational, personal, communication, motor and other skills. Throughout my 6.5-year employment, I learned about the principles of behavior modification and held many different positions at the Arc such as job coach, recreational aide, and group leader at the Arc’s day services center. In 2003, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science/Biology degree from East Stroudsburg University. Later, in 2004, I moved to the Florida Keys to attain a position with a shrimp hatchery as an algae biologist. There, my position entailed growing food for the shrimp to eat. As my seasonal position at the hatchery came to an end, a training position opened up at Dolphins Plus Bayside. I quickly submitted my resume and, thankfully, was integrated into this family-run company (both dolphins and co-workers). Throughout my years at Dolphins Plus Bayside, I have learned about every aspect of life. Working with animals has always been my passion and to be honest I don’t feel like I have worked a day in the last decade. One of my favorite quotes is, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucius
Senior Trainer/Staff Supervisor
Hi, my name is Kim and I am the Staff Supervisor of Dolphins Plus Bayside’s animal care team! My career began in 2011, shortly after completing my Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science from Eckerd College, in St Petersburg, Florida. I spent two summers interning with the Eckerd College Dolphin Project, participating in their ongoing bottlenose dolphin photo identification and acoustic surveys in Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, I began volunteering weekly at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and eventually secured an internship position with Dolphins Plus Bayside the summer before my senior year. I fell in love with the Dolphins Plus Bayside family and affirmed my lifelong dream of pursuing a career in marine mammal training. After graduating the following spring, I returned home to Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania determined to make my dream a reality. A few weeks later I received the opportunity to interview with Dolphins Plus Bayside and was fortunate enough to be offered a position on their animal care team. I ecstatically accepted and moved to the sunny Florida Keys that fall. It has been an adventure ever since! They say if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life. I can honestly say that this is true. Being a dolphin trainer is as challenging as it is rewarding, and every day reminds me of how much more there is for me to learn. Our field is not just about swimming with dolphins, it’s about inspiring conservation through interaction and awareness. My favorite part of the job is not only working and learning with the animals, but also having the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for marine mammals with guests from around world. It’s a pretty great day at the office!
Curator/Director of Education
“Live the Dream.” That was the theme of an airshow I attended a few years ago. Attending these yearly airshows always refuels my first true love of flying, but this particular airshow made me realize I had not chosen between two flight paths, but rather I had found a way to fulfill all of my dreams. While growing up as a contributing member of a farm family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I not only learned the value of good old-fashioned hard work, but I developed a lifelong love for animals. Naturally, being surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, that love for animals translated into a love for anything in the ocean. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Policy, my flight path took me to California where I was able to cultivate my teaching skills and experience first-hand the value of experiential education. I finally landed in Key Largo, where I have been afforded the opportunity to really ‘Live the Dream.” I started at Dolphins Plus Oceanside in 2001 as a member of the animal care team. My first few years were filled with learning animal behavior, animal training philosophies, and most importantly, building relationships with our resident dolphins. The bonds I have been encouraged to create with these amazing animals are a gift that I will always treasure. Over the years, my role at Dolphins Plus has evolved. Currently, I am part of the animal care team, a primary trainer for several of the animals that have become my family, and take on the many responsibilities of being the Curator/Director of Education. It is a dream come true to balance my love for these animals with my passion for education. I hope to inspire each and everyone I meet to find their passion in life and truly “Live the Dream.”
Hey everyone! My name is Tara and I am one of the trainers here at Dolphins Plus. Working with marine mammals has always been a dream of mine since an early age. My first trip to sea world at 6 years old made me realize that this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. During high school I volunteered at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut with belugas and stellar sea lions. While I was in college, I acquired an internship at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. I was hired on after my internship where I worked with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins as well as sea lions. From there I moved to Texas to become a trainer at the Texas State Aquarium, where I worked with 4 male Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and North American river otters. Knowing working with dolphins in Florida was my main goal, I applied to Dolphins Plus! After I was offered the position I drove down and started my new training position. I’m so excited to be part of this team of amazing animals and people and cannot wait to see what Dolphins Plus has in store for me!
Hello, my name is Tess and I one of the trainers here at Dolphins Plus! I am originally from Long Island, New York and fell in love with marine mammals at a young age watching seals and sea lions at our local aquarium whenever I could get my family to bring me there. Later, I was lucky enough to be part of their marine mammal training internship while studying at Stony Brook University, eventually graduating with my B.A in Environmental Studies with a focus in Marine Science. I knew that my end goal was to work alongside dolphins, so after graduating I participated in two internships at Island Dolphin Care here in Key Largo, in 2020 and 2021, to start building up my knowledge on these amazing animals as well as learn different training concepts. After completing my internships at IDC, I was offered a training position at Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida. I learned so much there but being so far away from the ocean made it pretty difficult. Growing up a minimum of 10 minutes from a beach, then getting a taste of living down here in the beautiful Florida Keys, I knew I needed to come back down here to live. So here I am now, and I am so excited to build some special connections with our population of dolphins. I can’t wait to see what Dolphins Plus has to offer and to continue growing as a trainer!