This is a subject that’s concerned me for a number of years now; how exactly do you train a dolphin? I know that a lot of people think it’s quite cruel to take one of Mother Earth’s most beautiful and fascinating creatures, remove it from its natural habitat, confine it to a woefully inadequate approximation of the great ocean from whence it came and force it to do tricks for the amusement of obnoxious tourists but let’s just park that debate for a second, that’s not what this post is about. This is about how to take an unfortunate anthropological development and exploit it for your own personal gain which is a far nobler topic of discussion I’m sure you’ll all agree.
I once witnessed a dolphin display first hand at a sea life centre in Valencia and I was stunned beyond belief as well as a little bit scared if I’m honest by how clever these friendly marine mammalia were. How do they know when to jump? How do you get them to do it in the first place? What if they get it wrong? Can any dolphin make it on to the team or are there some that just don’t get it? As far as I can work out they do it for the fish, it doesn’t seem too difficult for them, they’re clearly very intelligent and as long as they get a fish they seem really happy. If dolphins ever extend their collective ambitions beyond the immediate consumption of fish and decide to branch out in to something more tyrannical like the subjugation of the entire human race then we’re all fucked let me assure you.
I pictured in my mind a scenario whereby a new dolphin has been picked to join the team, how does the trainer begin to approach this task?
“OK Keith, got a job for you, look alive.”
“No Keith, if you remember you had fish this morning, this is something we need you to do for us.”
“No Keith you’ve already had fish!!! Listen, you know Chris the captain of the display team? Well he’s out of action for six weeks, done his hamstring. Jason is going to fill in as captain during that time but we need a sixth man otherwise we can’t do the show so you’re going to have to step up.”
“And then will I get fish?”
“Damn it Keith yes you’ll get some fish now get your shit together!”
That seems like roughly how it would go but then how do you begin the task of actually teaching him the routine? It’s not like they just swim about a bit or just do the one where they carry the trainer along on their beak, it’s properly choreographed and complicated as balls. Swim round this way, take a sharp left, then jump out of the water through the small hoop then back out, two flips then around then out with three flips then back round again and then a big jump out of the water through the two hoops at the far end of the pool then all six of you need to do two flips each but stagger it so it’s one by one not all at the same time and then…
“Damn it Keith!!!”
“No. No fish for you, what the fuck was that? I said turn left and then do two flips, you went right and did three flips in pike position you fucking moron. Jesus Christ anyone would think I’m not even speaking Dolphin!!!! Wait……..come back Keith I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you, I’m just under a lot of pressure with the show and everything. The doctors say that Chris could be out for as long as three months, could be his cruciate ligament. It’s not just his presence in the routine, he was the voice of the dressing room really, the lads all looked up to him. Look don’t worry we’ll get there, here have some fish.”
“Yes I just said you could have some fish. Here you go.”
In all honesty I reckon it’s probably quite a difficult job but it must be rewarding and given the demanding nature of the role and the pressure I estimate the starting salary must be at least £250K so why can’t I do it? As many of you know, the author has a natural affinity with all of God’s creatures as well as an outstanding work ethic so I googled ‘how to become a dolphin trainer’ and found a very helpful guide. I didn’t bother to read the words but the pictures are fairly self explanatory so I thought I’d share them with you all just in case you share my dream! Here we go :-
Step 1: Get a cat
Seems perfectly reasonable to me, after all if you can train a cat, you can train a dolphin as it’s basically just a big fishy cat. Now obviously we all know that no-one has ever successfully trained a cat, that’s impossible, like trying to elbow yourself in the face or achieve your monthly sales targets, it can’t be done. However, if you’ve ever attempted to train a cat, or even been arsed to live with one for any period of time then you’re probably more than qualified to tackle a dolphin, they’re nowhere near as fighty, that beak looks like it could do some damage but they don’t have claws and as far as I can see they’re far less predisposed to random spontaneous outbursts of horrific violence so I’m OK with this one. Tick!
Step 2: Get a degree
Not a problem, I’d assumed that a degree of some sort would be required, at least a 2:2 in any subject will probably suffice. That’s fine. I studied for three years to obtain my BA (Hons) in English Studies and I scraped a 2:1 so I’m probably, if anything, overqualified for the job. It’s probably safe to assume that my English degree is about as useful for a job in a dolphinquarium as it is for any other profession, which is to say absolutely no fucking use at all unless I want to be a teacher and bitch please I would rather teach sharks to eat fish off my scrotum than teach a classroom full of children thank you very much. The point though is that I do have a degree and like with most job interviews I’ve been on this will appear to count for something even though I will never, ever, ever be required to prove that I actually have it. Next!
Step 3: Befriend a dolphin trainer
I’m assuming this guy is a dolphin trainer as he is wearing a wetsuit, the guy on the left is me. Seems a fairly logical step. I’ve got the necessary qualifications as detailed in steps 1 & 2 but at the end of the day it’s not what you know is it? It’s who you know and if you have a friend who is already a dolphin trainer then they will be able to fast track your application and show you the ropes. It can’t be too hard to befriend one of these people if you hang around the dolphin area long enough a situation like this is bound to occur :-
“What this? Actually it’s called a Fairisle knit, not Tartan. You’re thinking of checks, Tartan is check.”
“Oh of course, you’re right. It’s still a nice jumper though.”
“Thanks man. Hey I like your wetsuit.”
“Oh thanks, yeah it’s what I wear to maintain body temperature while I’m in the pool training the dolphins, I don’t wear it out.”
“Right, guess not. Hey I’ve always wanted to be a dolphin trainer, I’ve got my own degree and I have a cat.”
“Why didn’t you say so? Step in to my office, let’s talk.”
Something like that.
Step 4: Make love to a dolphin
Have to admit I was a bit confused by this one at first but I suppose it does make logical sense. You have to really love dolphins in order to spend your whole life with them and really it’s about gaining their trust as well. You have to commit fully to the task at hand and ‘become one’ with the dolphins both physically and metaphorically. The guy in the picture looks like he’s finding it a bit tricky but the dolphin appears to be loving it. All seems fine to me, I’m in.
Step 5: Learn to swim and improve your public speaking
Seems a bit strange to me that they would put this after step 4 in the guide but as I can already swim it’s not going to be a problem. It doesn’t specify whether you should be speaking English or Dolphin but I’d imagine it’s very much like teaching English as a foreign language where you’re expected to know the basics of Dolphin but you don’t need to be fluent as you’ll pick most of it up as you go along. I was quite good at languages at school and, following the one and only piece of practical life advice I ever got from either of my parents I took German at A-Level and was awarded the grade of D so I reckon I should be fine with this. I’m quite used to public speaking and they do say that what people react to is 70% how you look, 20% how you sound and only 10% what you actually say so as long as you’re confident you’ll be alright. I’m guessing this applies to dolphins as well and to be fair once I’ve made love to them all they’ll be putty in my hands.
Step 6: Buy your own wetsuit
This is it! You’ve got the qualifications, you’ve successfully infiltrated the dolphin training community, you’ve experienced the delight and tenderness of sexual union betwixt man and dolphin and now you sir, are ready to take your place as a fully fledged commander of dolphins. It’s time to buy your own wetsuit! Look at this guy, standing tall and proud, the outline of his rippling physique just visible beneath the thin layer of neoprene. His chiselled features and tanned complexion radiating health and vitality. He’s got a picture on the wall there of his favourite dolphin which he’ll treasure always. This could be me! From the on-line guide it’s clear that I have all of the attributes required to succeed in this noble profession. So many jobs these days are just a means to an end, that’s why it’s so important to find your true calling, your vocation and I reckon this is mine.
Doubtless you will have found this career advice to be both useful and practical and if you too would like to pursue a career in bossing dolphins about for fish then get in line behind me.