Marine center offers degree, hands-on training

By By SUZETTE LABOY

GRASSY KEY, Fla. (AP) — A marine facility in the Florida Keys is offering college students a unique opportunity that combines a degree and hands-on training.

The Dolphin Research Center has five students in its new College of Marine Mammal Professions, which offers an Associate of Science Degree in Marine Mammal Behavior, Care and Training. The International Marine Animal Trainers' Association says the 36-week program is the only one in the U.S. that teaches hands-on training and care of marine mammals.

The students learn how to take care of aging marine mammals, such as Karen, a 27-year-old California sea lion that's completely blind.

The students also learn how to prepare specific meals for the animals, including two nursing baby dolphins at the center.

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