Dr. Cathy Schaeff (
Mon, 13 Jan 1997 12:08:54 +0000


Training whales takes a fairly long time (depending on what you are
trying to get them to do) and a lot of patience.  Most trainers use
positive reinforcement -- they reward the desired behavior whenever it
occurs.  Depending on what the desired end product is -- i.e., is it
something that the whale already does and you just want it to do the
behavior when you say to (fairly quick to train) OR is it a new behavior
like jumping up and touching a ball (requries lots of small steps to
achieve the end goal).  For example, first the ball is on the surface of
the water -- animal is rewarded whenever they touch it, then the ball is
slightly above the water, raised a little more, more, etc.

There are probably some books on the subject.  As well, keep your eye
out for something on discovery or National Geographic!

Hope this helps.
Dr. Cathy Schaeff
Biology Department 
American University
4400 Mass. Ave. N.W. 
Washington D.C. 20016-8007
(202) 885-2175