September 18, 2012
Written by Michael Hunt, Georgia Aquarium Director of Animal Training
The next two weeks’ episodes of Ocean Mysteries are special presentations highlighting the making of AT&T Dolphin Tales. Each week on Ocean Mysteries, we introduce you to some of the most compelling animals on earth – like whale sharks, sea otters, manta rays and beluga whales – all of whom have a home right here at Georgia Aquarium. While our team here at the Aquarium loves and cares deeply for all of our animals, we know there is something about bottlenose dolphins that captures the imagination, minds and hearts of people all over the world. That’s why Georgia Aquarium mounted a project unprecedented in scale and ambition created to educate our guests about the beauty, majesty and agility of these amazing animals. Below, Georgia Aquarium director of animal training Michael Hunt describes some of his favorite moments during the making of AT&T Dolphin Tales.
Bringing AT&T Dolphin Tales to Georgia Aquarium was no small feat, but our team was certainly up for the challenge. I am so proud to have been a part of the experience from start to finish. The hard work and dedication that went into the show is evident every time we take the stage here at Georgia Aquarium. Below, you’ll see some of my personal photos highlighting behind-the-scenes moments that were particularly meaningful to me.
I just love this image. Here I am with Rachel Friedman and Lisa Mignogna from the AT&T Dolphin Tales animal training team. We were at Dolphin Quest on Hawaii’s Big Island getting to know the dolphins that would soon join our family at Georgia Aquarium.
This is one of my favorite images from opening AT&T Dolphin Tales. It is of a board outside our dressing room where many team members left well-wishes the evening of our first performance. Everyone was nervous, and I am pretty sure I held my breath from the time the curtain went up until the lights went out.
It was a lifelong dream of mine to meet Betty White. Here we are shortly before the show opened. I never thought that I would get to spend the better part of an hour with her. She was the most down to earth and genuine celebrity I’ve ever met and her love of animals is so inspiring and infectious!
I love this shot of the show’s theatrical director Roy Luthringer and me following our first show. Roy was intimately involved in the animal and trainer choreography and it definitely paid off. Roy’s eye for blending the beauty and grace of our dolphins with the theatrical elements of the show truly made for an awe-inspiring production.
This team shot is one of my favorites because it took an entire group of people on stage and behind the scenes to make our show happen. These people are the true heroes of AT&T Dolphin Tales and I am inspired by their unyielding commitment to the health and wellbeing of our animals.
My mom and dad traveled from south Florida to be here for our grand opening. I was so glad that they were able to finally see the culmination of many years of work. It was a big night for me, and my parents were nothing but supportive.
How cool is this shot? I love airplanes and am an aviation geek, so when I found out that the Dolphin Tales show was getting its own plane, I was very excited. Getting to go to the unveiling of AirTran’s Dolphin One Boeing 737 was a lot of fun, and something that I will never forget.
This is a great behind-the-scenes photo from when we taped the intros and wraps for the Ocean Mysteries special presentation. We had a lot of fun making this episode happen! I hope that you can tune in to share in some of the fun and excitement that our trainers get to experience each day.
This project is one of Georgia Aquarium’s biggest accomplishments, and I am so glad that we are able to give you a behind-the-scenes look at all the hard work and dedication that went into it. I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos and that they’ll inspire you tune in to Ocean Mysteries this and every weekend on more than 220 ABC stations across the country. Watch the show Saturday mornings on WSB-TV in Atlanta, or check listings for your local ABC station.
Learn more about AT&T Dolphin Tales, and plan your visit by clicking here.