|On May 4, 2021, Coral World Ocean Park welcomed two coastal Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to their new home in Coral World’s St. Thomas Sea Sanctuary in Water Bay. The dolphins, Cavello and Nola, join the four current residents, Liko, Noelani, Sonny and Ping who have resided at Coral World since February 20, 2019.
Cavello and Nola belong to the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo. They were born in human care in Bermuda in an ocean environment and have experience with interactive programs. Coral World’s Animal Welfare Specialists have spent months in St. Thomas and with staff in Bermuda to prepare for their transport and arrival. General Curator Lee Kellar and Coral World’s consulting veterinarian Dr. Natalie Noll accompanied the dolphins on their flight to St. Thomas to ensure their wellbeing. “It takes a lot of effort to organize and carry out a transport of dolphins. I am glad to say this one went very smoothly,” reported Kellar.
Colleen Cornachione, a senior member of the Animal Welfare team, spent time in Bermuda building a relationship with each of them so they would have a familiar face upon arrival. Cornachione noted, “It was wonderful to get to know Cavello and Nola in Bermuda. They have such sweet personalities and love to learn. One of their favorite things to do is swim with their Animal Welfare Specialists. Our staff at Coral World spent a lot of time learning as much as possible about them before their arrival. They are excited to join them for a swim in their new home!”
According to Coral World’s Assistant Curator of Marine Mammals and Birds Kristine Tartaglio, the Animal Welfare Specialists are excited to get to know Cavello and Nola better. She observed, “We are really looking forward to the new dynamic that Nola and Cavello will bring to our current social group. Since they have lived all their lives in an ocean environment, I expect them to encourage our four original dolphins to use more of their habitat and benefit from all the stimulation it offers.” Liko, Noelani, Sonny, and Ping had little to no exposure to a natural marine habitat before coming to Coral World. As a result, it took some time for each of them to adjust to living among fish, invertebrates, corals, and seagrass. Even after two years, some are bolder explorers than others.
Cavello and Nola will spend time in the sanctuary’s specialty areas while they adjust to their new home, but we hope their adjustment will be relatively quick given their experience with a natural marine habitat. Over the next few weeks, Coral World Animal Welfare Specialists will gradually introduce them to their new social group while closely monitoring their transition. As with the original sanctuary residents, Coral World’s team of Animal Welfare Specialists will work on building strong relationships with Cavello and Nola before they are introduced to Coral World visitors.