dolphin research at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney disclosure

Escape the Florida heat with a dive into The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Disney’s Epcot. Enjoy an underwater adventure with a colorful cast of undersea characters and animals within the 5.7 million gallons of saltwater.

Bruce the shark at The Seas in Epcot

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Within the many gallons of water filling The Seas, guests of the exhibit can find over 6,000  of saltwater fish swimming within its walls. Those numbers include 4 bottle-nosed dolphins, 6 sharks, Spotted Eagle Rays and more. One little known fact: The Seas is actually the 2nd largest aquarium in the United States.

feeding Stingrays at Epcot's Living Seas

Just as in other areas of Disney, the divers within the aquarium are specially trained to study the sea life. As they dive into the water to feed each species of fish, they observe the appearance and behavior of every sea creature. They are looking for any evidence of illness or distress and take immaculate notes on each encounter. Divers also use this time for any husbandry training. If the fish ever need any medical attention, this training will make them more comfortable with the process.

spotted eagle ray at Epcot

Interestingly enough, I found the way the divers feed the sharks to be quite educational. In fact, it made total sense but not perhaps something I would have though of. The animal specialists do not want the sharks to associate food with humans. Therefore, the sharks only get fed in the pitch dark of night. With one single bright spotlight, the divers work to stay out of sight as they draw the shark to the light. It is then that they are fed fish such as mackerel and salmon. They are never fed fish that can also be found within the aquarium with them. Precautions are in place to keep the divers and other species of fish safe!

dolphin training at Epcot

In correlation to the sharks, you will also find bottle-nose dolphins. We had to giggle when we were told that the dolphins get their own area of the aquarium because of how playful they are! It seems that the sea turtles do NOT like to be spun around again and again. In fact, the dolphins have three closets full of toys! They are serious about their playtime. But they eat enough to keep playing with 10,000 calories consumed each day!

dolphin research at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Also, the dolphins are trained to make certain responses based on a card or item. As we watched them train, it was exhilarating to listen to each dolphin “speak” as if on cue. Sure, they missed some of the cues but that did not even bother their endurance. One of them would actually shake his head knowing he got it wrong and then prepare to try again. It was fascinating to watch and incredibly insightful into the way the animal specialists train the dolphins.

Additionally, there are other tours you can take at The Seas with Nemo & Friends:

  1. Epcot DiveQuest – tour the massive backstage infrastructure that filters and maintains this vast man-made ocean (must be SCUBA-certified to participate) and swim with 6,000 sea creatures representing over 60 aquatic species
  2. Dolphins in Depth – talk to the expert trainers and researchers who work with bottlenose dolphins every day
  3. Aqua Tour – snorkel with over 6,000 sea creatures, including sea turtles, angelfish, eagle rays and sharks in the aquarium

Each of theses experiences bring you even closer to the sea-life and allow you to dive deeper with them. Be sure to immerse yourself into the underwater world while at Epcot and discover the beauty of The Seas.

Monkey Kingdom

Want to learn dig deeper with the monkeys? Be sure to swing into theaters to watch Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom!