By Sonya Stevenssstevens@abcnews4.com
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-- Did you know that you can adopt a wild dolphin? It's now possible thanks to a new program that the SC Aquarium recently started with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The purpose of the Adopt a Wild Dolphin program is to provide individuals and classrooms the opportunity to connect with bottlenose dolphins.
"This is a brand new program to make an effort to connect our community to a group of animals that we can not legally exhibit in the aquarium," said Shelley Dearhart, Education Programs Instructor at the SC Aquarium. "So it's a great opportunity to hopefully get kids not only to learn about wild dolphins and why it is so important to protect them, but also to have them enjoy them outside or outdoors, which is such an important thing."
Students got a chance to see some wild dolphins up close and personal Thursday.
"On our field trip we went out near Fort Sumter and there were a lot of dolphins in a vortex around there that attracts all the fish to their feeding grounds," said Konrad Durr, a marine biology student at Wando High School.
Wando High School's Marine Biology class is the first class to adopt a dolphin through the new program.
"For five hundred dollars you can adopt a dolphin and with that, we get to go on this boat ride and the money goes straight to conservation and research at the aquarium for dolphins," said biology student, Allie Richardson.
Besides being the first class adoption, it's a big step for the new program.
"The money actually goes toward, eventually it's hopefully going to specifically, go more towards marine mammal conservation out in the community and right now we are working to develop this program and grow this program and that's what that money is coming back to do right now," said Dearhart.
For more information on the Adopt a Wild Dolphin program, check out their website: http://www.scaquarium.org/Members/adoptDolphin.html.