In April of 2010, Bermuda celebrated the birth of not just one, but three beautiful dolphin babies!
Dolphin moms Caliban, Bailey and Ely gave birth within 13 days of each other.
Bailey and Caliban’s calves were both born on the same day (April 1) and Ely’s calf was born on April 14.
The calves were welcomed with lots of love and great care by their dolphin and human families at Dolphin Quest at the National Museum of Bermuda in Royal Naval Dockyard.
We worked in shifts and stayed with our expectant moms around the clock as their dolphin due dates approached.
Since dolphin babies are most often born tail first, we looked for the first sign of baby’s little tail flukes protruding from mom’s belly to signal the baby was on the way.
As our moms went into the dolphin equivalent of “labour”, we offered all the comfort and reassurance we could, with massages and tail rubs, favourite foods and words of encouragement.
All of our Dolphin Quest trainers and staff anxiously watched the miracle of birth unfold, with cheers and tears when the new baby finally arrives.
Dolphin moms’ bonding with their babies begins the very moment they are born.
Babies are born underwater and in the critical first moments of their lives, rely on mom to gently nudge them to the surface for their first breath of air.
Babies learn swimming skills in the first hours and days of life, moving with more and more grace, close beside and in sync with their watchful and protective moms. Bailey, Caliban and Ely are all wonderful moms.
This was Ely’s first baby, but she had learned her parenting skills well by observing her own mother and aunties.
After the birth itself, the next critical step is for the babies to begin nursing — no easy task as the dolphin babies need to learn to nurse while underwater and with mom and baby in motion.
All three of our 2010 Bermuda babies proved to be champs at nursing, much to our delight, and they were quickly gaining both size and confidence.
We continued our 24-hour watch on our new babies and moms for their first month, recording every time they nursed, their respiration rates and their physical and behavioural development.
And of course, we all fell deeply in love with them, watching and sharing stories about their developing personalities.
More than 500 dolphin baby names were suggested from across Bermuda and the world!
The name selected for Caliban’s boy was “Cooper”. Cooper was named after the Old Cooperage Building, which is the former barrel-making factory in Dockyard, now home to one of Bermuda’s largest craft markets.
Bailey’s girl was named “Cavello” after the beautiful Cavello Bay in Bermuda’s West End.
Ely’s girl was named “Marley” after the magnificent Marley Beach on Bermuda’s South Shore.
Our trainers began going into the water and introducing themselves to Cooper, Cavello and Marley soon after their birth.
A dolphin baby care process pioneered by Dolphin Quest and called “Project Newborn” brings moms, babies and human caretakers together to slowly build the lifelong trusting bonds with the babies that we share with the moms and with all of our dolphins.
Through Project Newborn, we are able to monitor the babies’ weight gains and growth, ensure that they are nursing well, and provide veterinary care if necessary.
We’ve learned that early introduction to our dolphin babies and hands-on care greatly enhances their health and growth and quality of life.
Cooper, Cavello and Marley will nurse from moms Caliban, Bailey and Ely for up to two years, though all three babies have begun eating solid food — fish and squid — and are already showing signs of youthful independence.
Marley is the most out-going of the three. We see a twinkle in her eye. She’s funky, spunky, fun and eager to learn.
Cooper is a quick learner, too, though a little less gregarious. He likes to play, and just seems a bit more cautious.
Cavello is the shy one. She seems mellow and reserved, perhaps a late bloomer, and is happy staying close to mom Bailey.
Thousands of Bermudians and island guests have met our three new beautiful babies at Dolphin Quest, getting to know them and watching them grow.
We are so proud of each of our babies — Cavello, Cooper and Marley and their marvellous moms.
And like all proud family members, we love to talk about them.
We invite you to stop by and see Bermuda’s three new dolphin babies at Dolphin Quest in Dockyard.
We will tell you their latest accomplishments and share our baby pictures!