What Is It?

The Dolphin Research Center is devoted to researching, rescuing and educating people about marine mammals. The center, which is open to visitors, has provided professional medical care to wildlife in the area since 1984 and is a home for animals that cannot be re-released into the wild. 


What Kind of Research?  

The Florida Keys Center has three focuses in research: cognition, behavior and husbandry. Examples include a study on dolphins’ mathematical ability to compare quantities, an examination of respiration rates and monitoring the health of the animals at the center. When visiting, guests can view some of the day-to-day research.



The center was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1984 by Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez and Armando “Mandy” Rodriguez. Mandy previously worked as a dolphin trainer, but both Mandy and Jayne wanted to start a center with more focus on research and rehabilitation. They took in marine mammals with chronic medical conditions or in need of new homes. 


What to Do 

With general admission tickets, visitors can observe the social aquatic creatures during their playtime, and earn about the center’s  research. There are options to upgrade to a “dolphin encounter” or VIP experience, where guests can observe and play with the sea lions and dolphins.   


Manatee Rescue 

Generally, the center does not house manatees at the facility, but it is highly involved in rescuing manatees. Dolphin Research Center is the only government- authorized manatee rescue team  in the Florida Keys. It is licensed to rescue and verify the location and condition of manatees. 


More Info 

Dolphin Research Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The center is at 58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, Florida. For information on prices and how to get involved, visit www.dolphins.org, call 305-289-1121 or email drc@dolphins.org.