Field Trips at Dolphins Plus

Bring Marine Mammals and Marine Science to Life!

Inspiring ocean conservation is our passion, so we have carefully curated a variety of experiential learning opportunities for students of all ages. All field trips can be customized to enhance your classroom objectives and meet a variety of educational standards.

Educational field trips at our natural seawater facility in the Florida Keys can include:

  • Educational demonstrations
  • Dockside and in-water interactions with our resident bottlenose dolphins
  • Classroom presentations
  • Labs
  • Hands-on activities
  • Games
  • Behind-the-scenes tours
  • Subjects may include local Florida Keys ecology, conservation, marine invertebrates, dolphin anatomy and physiology, animal care and training, and more!
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Learn more about the educational standards that these programs meet and ways they supplement classroom learning with fun, memorable experiences that can help instill a passion for marine mammal conservation at any age.

If you’re ready to take the next step in planning your field trip, download the Exclusive Insider eGuide for Student Group Planning.

Educational Standards Marine Mammal Conservation Lessons Meet


 Field trips to Dolphins Plus are designed to foster connections When visiting the marine education center, you won’t just be enjoying a fun day in the sun learning about dolphins. You’ll be meeting both state and national educational standards during your field trip.

As you work with the Dolphins Plus team, you can structure a day that touches on many educational subjects including.

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Math (STEM) 

Our team has reviewed and analyzed educational standards so we can partner with educators to build field trips that align with state and national standards. We’ll collaborate with you to meet objectives while providing students memorable experiences. Here’s a look at how learning about our dolphins can align with curriculum standards.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Field trips can cover life science, physical science, earth and space science or environmental science. Based on Next Generation Science Standards, you can achieve the following science and engineering practices:

  • Asking questions and defining problems
  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematical and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
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Florida Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

If you’re looking for engaging ways to help students achieve Florida’s Common Core State Standards (CCSS), you’ll find alignment with two main objectives.

  • English Language Arts: Reading informational texts, writing to inform and explain, engaging in collaborative conversations, and participating in academic discussions.
  • Mathematics: Using mathematical and quantitative reasoning.

National Science Education Standards (NSES)

Each grade level has different standards for life science, earth and space science, and physical science under the National Science Education Standards. Some grades also have engineering science design topics. Here’s a look at the standards that can apply when planning a field trip to our facility.

  • Science as inquiry: Understanding the nature of science and its processes.
  • Physical science: Understanding the properties and behavior of matter and energy.
  • Life science: Understanding the characteristics and behavior of living organisms.
  • Earth and space science: Understanding the characteristics of the Earth and its place in the universe.
  • Science and technology: Understanding the nature of scientific knowledge and its impact on society.
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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Education Standards

Field trips for school can aid in meeting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Educational Standards. These field trips cover two crucial areas.

  • Ocean literacy: Understanding the ocean's influence on you and understanding your influence on the ocean.
  • Climate literacy: Understanding Earth's climate system and the impacts of human activities.

Start planning your field trip by downloading the Exclusive Insider eGuide for Student Group Planning.

Marine Mammal Conservation Experiential Learning and Immersion Benefits

Students visiting Dolphins Plus won’t just observe dolphins; they’ll interact with them, learn more about their habitats, understand the unique balance of marine life and so much more. And it isn’t just about dolphins. These amazing creatures play a role in balancing habitats for other marine life. Without them, other marine wildlife will struggle to survive and thrive in their natural environments.

Take a look at the primary benefits students will gain from a field trip to our marine education center.

1. Reliable, Quality, Safe Experiences That Can Be Tailored to Student Needs

Come back year after year to Dolphins Plus for new material, experiences and various learning opportunities. Once you work with one of our education experts, you’ll find there is a wealth of learning available and students will look forward to next year’s field trip with anticipation.

2. Comprehensive Educational Curriculum Aligned with National Education Standards

There’s nothing random about the educational programs we’ve developed at Dolphins Plus. We’ve done our research and come alongside educators to help them align the field trip to national and local education standards. Our team knows that field trips aren’t all just about getting out of the classroom and undergoing a unique experience. Teachers have a responsibility to outline specifics surrounding what a child will learn and how it applies to benchmarks and standards. Review the section above on education standards to build your field trip into your curriculum planning.

Learn more about how we help educators plan field trips aligned to goals by downloading the Exclusive Insider eGuide for Student Group Planning.

3. Experiential and Interactive Educational Programs with Experienced Trainers and Conservationists

You won’t have a general tour guide when you visit Dolphins Plus. Experienced trainers and conservationists interact with students and lead classroom and immersive experiences. These are highly regarded experts in their fields with experience working with guests of all ages to create learning opportunities targeted toward developmental phases. Content and experiences will resonate with your group for high-quality learning.

4. Opportunities for Group Members to Interact with Dolphins For First-hand Insights to Their Behavior and Habitats

Marine mammal education isn’t reserved for the classroom or even labs. Students can get in the water and swim with dolphins to learn about their behaviors and see their habitats in a unique way.

Dolphins Plus Bayside features a natural lagoon. Based on the ages of participants in your group, you can choose between a signature swim and a shallow water encounter.

But if getting in the water with the dolphins is too much, students can engage with dolphins dockside, which is a great option if you have a group with younger children not yet ready to enter the water.

Regardless of the dolphin encounter you select, the experienced trainer assigned to your group will make it a learning opportunity with dolphin behaviors to observe and habitat aspects to note.

5. Fun and Engaging “Edutainment” Activities that Make Learning Enjoyable and Memorable

When students are having fun and are entertained, they are more likely to retain the material they are learning. One study found that edutainment instruction “enhanced students’ academic achievement and retention.” 

The study had students take a building technology achievement test (BTAT) and then retake it after a lecture or edutainment. The individuals taught with edutainment scored 11.91 points higher during the second test while those taught via lecture only scored 8.75 points higher.

For many, these up-close dolphin encounters and hands-on learning activities are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s something they’ll talk about for life and can instill in them a passion for caring for marine life, which the world desperately needs during a time of true crisis due to changing habitats from pollution. 

6. Stunning Key Largo, Location with Access to Additional Marine Life and Ecosystems

Key Largo is a desirable tourist location thanks to its stunning vistas and unique settings. If you’re a local, you might take for granted the unique opportunity you have to educate students among stunning backdrops with access to unique marine life.

While dolphins are a large focus for our team, our facility also provides access to other marine life and ecosystems. So the educational opportunities don’t stop with these incredible marine mammals.

7. A Commitment to Marine Mammal Conservation and Sustainability

The Dolphins Plus team is fully committed to marine mammal conservation. This isn’t your average dolphin encounter facility. Our team includes researchers and financial support for Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder, which rescues and rehabilitates injured or sick dolphins, whales, manatees and other sea animals.

The charitable efforts cover 10,000 square miles of marine habitat throughout the Florida Keys. When you support Dolphins Plus, you’re making a lasting impact on marine wildlife and sustainability that protects their natural habitats.

An In-depth Look At Our Marine Education Center and Programs

Each field trip experience is tailored to meet the unique needs of both the educator and their students. We welcome guests of all ages and will adjust the curriculum to meet their developmental phase. Take a look at the various marine education programs available through Dolphins Plus but know that our team can adapt these programs accordingly to meet your objectives.

1. Interactive Programs

Interact with our resident bottlenose dolphins in a variety of settings, from Dockside and Shallow Water Encounters to our Signature Swim, our programs adapt to meet the needs of various students of all ages and abilities.

Here’s a look at some of the interactive programs you can choose from as you build an ideal field trip for your students.

  • Educational Dolphin Demonstrations
  • Meet a Dolphin 
  • Dolphin Dockside
  • Shallow Water Dolphin Encounter (students must meet age and height requirements)
  • Signature Swim (students must meet age requirements)
  • Shadow a Trainer for a Day
  • Behind-the-scenes Tour

2. Educational Activities

Marine biologists and educators will guide your students through various presentations and hands-on activities covering dolphin biology, behavior, and conservation. Learn about other marine life as well. As you plan your field trip, our education team will work with you to customize an itinerary based on your group’s needs and interests.

Lecture topics:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Marine Mammal Care
  • Animal Training 
  • Environmental Enrichment
  • Florida Keys Conservation
  • Coral Reefs
  • Mangrove Ecology

Hands-on activities:

  • Dolphin-inspired Art Projects
  • Animal Training Game
  • Squid Dissection
  • Marine Invertebrate Touch Tank
  • The Intelligence Debate

3. A Professional Team Helping You Make the Most of Your Visit

While our focus is on dolphin education, we can help you build an itinerary for your visit to Key Largo, which boasts a diverse ecosystem. You can build an entire field trip around animal conservation and fragile ecosystem protection.

You’ll find that the area offers plenty to see and do. Allow our team of Key Largo locals to help you create a memorable trip with suggestions on how to build an ideal South Florida adventure with planning tips including:

  • Nearby attraction recommendations
  • Meal and accommodation suggestions
  • Tips for making the most of your time at our facility

Why Dolphin Conservation Matters

Protecting dolphins isn’t just about ensuring these creatures are around for future generations. Dolphins keep the seas healthy, which protects the habitats of a variety of other wildlife, as well as the entire human population.

Fishing, pollution, shipping and a variety of other activities are threatening dolphins. Their natural habitats are in harbors, estuaries, coastal waters and bays. They can also live in the open ocean. 

Their role is to create environmental balance thanks to the fish, cuttlefish, crustaceans and squid they eat. They also are a food source for sharks and other marine wildlife.

If dolphins become too scarce – or worse, go extinct – the marine life that is their food source would become too plentiful, creating an imbalance in the ocean. And their predators could face extinction due to a lack of food sources. Overall, it would disrupt the food chain’s natural balance, which could harm the overall health of the ocean.

By educating the public about the dangers dolphins face, we can prevent dolphins from becoming endangered. One such danger is unsustainable fishing. Dolphins get accidentally caught in fishing nets, leading to the annual deaths of up to 300,000 dolphins. And too much fishing is also making the food sources for dolphins scarce. 

From a young age, children are impressionable. Teaching them about conservation and sustainability efforts produces benefits not just for marine life, but other critical nature functions. The benefits include:

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1.Understanding the interdependence between the environment and humans
2.Grasping the balance between society and the environment to build more earth-conscious businesses and communities
3.Building life skills critical to a more sustainable future
4.Instilling respect for the planet so children can make an impact at any age and help conserve precious resources
5.Encouraging adaptation at a young age when change is easier before children are set in their ways

Take the next step in bringing up the next generation to respect and protect marine mammals by downloading the Exclusive Insider eGuide for Student Group Planning.


About Conservation and Animal Welfare at Dolphins Plus

Dolphins Plus exceeds state and federal regulations for dolphin care. The team builds trusting relationships with these animals to make connections with them. Training is safe and enriching thanks to the 3-6-month preceptorship that all new staff trainers must go through. All trainers must pass an extensive written exam before working alone with the dolphins.

In addition to rigorous training, the team is also focused on animal health and safety. With a team of on-site veterinarians, we can identify and treat ailments or concerns quickly. If a veterinarian is not close by, all staff members have rigorous training in emergency procedures. 

Dolphin experiences are healthy, dignified and positive to keep the animals happy and healthy. When guests interact with our dolphins, they get the experience of a lifetime to observe the intelligence and curiosity these mammals possess by immersing visitors in the dolphins’ natural habitat.

By educating the public about the importance of dolphin conservation, we make stewards of our oceans. We see our role as crucial to the community, and regularly look for opportunities to bring conservation education to the public.

Instead of learning about dolphins from a book, students get up close to build unique bonds with the animals and deepen their learning through interactive experiences. Once students have these experiences, they often become stewards of the ocean and all that lives within it.

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What Educators Say About These Educational Field Trips

Don’t take our word for how great Dolphins Plus field trips are. Here’s what educators, parents and youth leaders have to say about the reliable, quality, safe and fun experiences they had during their Dolphins Plus field trip.