Dolphin 'adoption' scheme helps keep attraction afloat
An adoption programme has helped a dolphinarium to weather the Covid-19 storm, its general manager has revealed.
Christine Mihelcic said Dolphin Quest’s “Adopt a Dolphin” scheme, introduced about a month ago, had brought a welcome boost.
She added: “We just introduced it around the Christmas time period and as a result we have had great interest.
“Our business model is such that we cater heavily to the cruise ships – the tourism industry. That is our bread and butter.
Visitor numbers at the Dockyard tourist attraction plummeted by 75 per cent last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Mihelcic said: “We had to look at things creatively and find new ways for people to have that connection to nature and encourage people to learn more.”
“Since Covid started, we had a lot of people reaching out to find out how they could assist us and sponsor us.
“There are others who take part in our Christmas camp, but due to the increase in Covid numbers we chose not to offer it.
“We redirected those with a passion for the environment and caring for animals, and said, ’why don’t you do an adopt a dolphin?’ ”
Ms Mihelcic added: “We are seeing individuals interested in wanting to care for their island and animals. That’s what it was born out of – a need to share the values of caring.”
Members of the public can adopt a dolphin for three months or a year.
They also get a year’s membership at the National Museum of Bermuda and monthly visits to Dolphin Quest where they can feed their adopted animal.
Ms Mihelcic said that the attraction had seen an increase in resident visitors and had been able to connect with more schoolchildren and students through virtual field trips.
She added: “This summer we were blown away at the support from the local market – we doubled the number of visits from locals this August compared to last August.
“They are not travelling overseas as much and they are exploring all that Bermuda has to offer.”
Dolphin Quest held about 1,400 on-island and overseas virtual field trips last year.
The attraction stayed open all last year, except Christmas Day, but was forced to cut staff levels because of reduced demand.
It also introduced discounts, with one package sold for $100 rather than the usual $175.
Ms Mihelcic said: “Whether through our virtual trips, attracting sponsorship or our adopt programme, we are looking at unique ways to get people to embrace love of Bermuda and foster interest in marine life.”