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Kidsworld dolphin adventure.

What do you think of when you hear the word dolphin? Do you think of Flipper from the TV show? Do you think "friendly, smart and helpful"? Do you think it would be cool to swim with one?

To discover more about dolphins -- more than what you'll find in the library or on the Internet -- kidsworld travelled to Hawaii to get the scoop straight from the dolphin's ... snout. We selected the island of O'ahu, one of the Hawaiian islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, known both for its dolphins and its kid-friendly dolphin programs.

O'ahu is a popular vacation destination due to its sunny weather, beautiful beaches and friendly people. There are also a lot of activities for kids to check out -- such as surfing, water parks, volcanoes, and the world's largest maze.

Our first stop on O'ahu was Hanauma Bay, where tourists can rent incredibly fast two-person inflatable boats to join the dolphins in the ocean. Before long, we were joined by a pod -- that's the name for a small group of dolphins -- of about 20 spinner dolphins. Spinners are about 1.8 m long. Their name refers to the way they often twist their bodies when they jump out of the water. They looked so happy and playful, we knew right away we had to find out more. That's when we decided to head straight to Sea Life Park Hawaii.

Sea Life Park is a great place for kids to spend time checking out whales, seals, turtles and seabirds, but the park also conducts important marine animal research, runs programs about these precious animals, and works to protect sea life.

The Sea Life program we needed was Splash U (get it!), where visitors are encouraged to get into the water with the dolphins! Here we met Sophie, a beautiful and friendly bottlenose dolphin. Her skin felt tike wet rubber. She let us rub her belly and look into the blowhole on top of her head (dolphin use this special "nostril" to breathe). By the time she let us touch her teeth and tongue, we were not only crazy for dolphins, we had a lot of questions to ask.

The best person to answer our questions was Paka Nishimura, Sea Life Park's curator and world-renowned dolphin expert. Paka has studied and trained dolphins for over 20 years. He explained that Splash U is one of the few places in the world that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look into the care of marine animals, and the scientific research and animal rehabilitation programs at Sea Life.

kw - Why do people like dolphins so much?

Paka - I guess the smile that dolphins seem to have has a lot to do with it. Also, because of TV shows and movies, people tend to see them as the puppy dogs of the sea. But dolphins can be dangerous. In the wild, dolphins can be very aggressive. They need to be in order to survive.

kw - Where do you get your dolphins?

Paka - All but one of the dolphins at Splash U were born here.

kw - How long do dolphins live?

Paka - We estimate that the average life span of a bottlenose dolphin in the wild is about 25 years. However, there are some dolphins in Sea Life Park that are 40 years old.

kw - Do you think dolphins like people?

Paka - Some dolphins really like to be around people. Others don't. You have to respect it when a dolphin doesn't want to interact with you.

kw - How long does it take a dolphin to learn a basic trick?

Paka - We call them `behaviours' because we are teaching them to modify their regular behaviour. To teach a dolphin to do a flip out of the water on command takes about two to four months.

kw - Are some dolphins smarter than others?

Paka - Some seem to learn complex behaviours faster than others. One dolphin I worked with figured out that when he found a leaf or some litter in the pool and brought it to the trainer, he would get a reward. During a performance, he didn't do any of the behaviours he was asked to do. Instead, he kept bringing the trainer more leaves. After the show, we discovered that he had a stash of leaves he kept down by a drain. That's a smart dolphin!

kw - Why are there so many dolphins in Hawaii?

Paka - The climate and food source is consistently good for dolphins. Also, there is a good combination of shallow and deep water that appeals to many different types of dolphins.

kw - Do you have a message for kidsworld readers?

Paka - It is important that people come to places like Sea Life Park and Splash U to see and understand the beauty and importance of creatures like dolphins. We hope that once people understand how incredible they are, they will care about them and their environment more.

Snowboard 68

How many words of three or more letters can you make out of the letters in SNOWBOARD? We made 68. Note: the 68 does not include adding "s" to a word to make it a plural -- "road" is one word, but don't include "roads".

First see how many words you can make without looking at the chart below. Then, fit your words into the alphabetical chart, and use it to help you work out some more.
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Publication:Kidsworld Magazine
Date:Sep 22, 2000
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