Florida Keys dolphin adventure

About Dolphin Connection


Dolphin Connection owners Doug and Cheryl Messinger are respected leaders in the training, care, conservation and breeding of marine mammals. Together, they have more than 50 years of experience in the marine mammal field. Dolphin Connection has focused on Florida dolphin education and conservation since 1990. Each Dolphin Connection staff member is highly trained with annual involvement in professional conferences, wildlife conservation projects and staff exchange programs with zoological institutions around the country. This comprehensive experience translates into the best possible care for our animals.


Dolphin Connection staff and animals have worked with a variety of world-renowned researchers to make groundbreaking discoveries about bottlenose dolphins on topics such as behavior, reproduction and the effects of pollution.


Dolphin Connection is a founding member of the Bottlenose Dolphin Breeding Consortium, bringing together groups of like-minded institutions to collectively manage a sustainable and genetically-sound population of bottlenose dolphins. Formed in 1999, this pioneering venture has produced more than 20 successful bottlenose dolphin calves to date. Our members include:

Our members include:

  • Chicago Zoological Society
  • Disney’s EPCOT Living Seas
  • Indianapolis Zoological Society
  • Minnesota Zoological Garden
  • National Aquarium in Baltimore
  • Texas State Aquarium


Dolphin Connection is proud to be professionally accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums since 2003. The Alliance administers a stringent accreditation process for its members, with re-accreditations taking place every five years. Accredited members must uphold Alliance Standards and Guidelines to optimize the health and well-being of marine mammals under their care and to maximize both the educational and scientific value of their operation as a whole.


Collaboration, both nationally and internationally, is a fundamental tenet of Dolphin Connection operations in Duck Key. Our staff members are actively involved in a number of professional organizations including:

  • Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums
  • American Zoo and Aquarium Association
  • International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association
  • Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • Animal Behavior Management Alliance
  • International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine
  • European Association of Aquatic Mammals
  • National Marine Educators Association