Our marine mammal specialists currently at the Subic facility come from different backgrounds but are each similarly driven by their passion for marine mammals. With 259 years of experience across 36 facilities between them, there’s much to be unraveled about the team. We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them better – this week, we spoke with Adam Rahming.
1. Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in Seattle, Washington, and I actually moved to the Bahamas six years ago to start my career with dolphins. I’ve had a fascination with animals my whole life. From the age of nine until now, I’ve had four cats and six-and-a- half dogs; I say “half “ because I left a puppy back home in the US.
I’ve always been a fan of the world. I grew up in a family that has travelled a lot, from Canada to Alaska to Mexico, and I’ve always enjoyed meeting other people. To be able to meet these different cultures and these different people, I love it. It makes me a better person and not so one-track minded.
The language barrier between us and animals has always been fascinating to me. They can’t speak but they know what you want, and in some cases, what we expect from them.
Last year, I decided that I want to venture out and explore the world and here I am. In my career with dolphins to date, I have witnessed and assisted with the delivery of nine newborn baby dolphins. Each was an amazing experience.
2. What’s so interesting about the dolphins that made you want to pursue this as a career?
This is one of the jobs that we actually wake up and go like “okay, what can I do today, I can work on this, I can work on that.” It’s like working with different personalities and trying to figure them out.
They may not have facial expressions, but the noise that they make, like the clicks, the whizzes, the buzzes, allows you to figure out their moods – if they are playful or excited. Their IQ can sometimes range from that of a seven-year-old child to a nine-year-old child, and that’s one of the most fascinating things.
3. We’ve heard a lot about positive reinforcement. How is this concept relevant to you as a marine mammal specialist?
We work hard to find just the right rewards for animals. Some of these animals love being caressed, especially having their tails touched, their heads touched, their bellies touched. As a marine mammal specialist, we have to determine what is positively reinforcing for each individual animal.
Every animal is different; they have different personalities just like we do. So positive reinforcement to me is learning about these animals’ personalities and finding out what they like, what excites them and what makes them comfortable.
Hear why Adam thinks marine mammal specialists play such important roles.