On the southern stretch of St. Augustine’s shoreline lies one of the historic coast’s
most iconic destinations. Marineland
is steeped in nostalgia and cinematic lore, and it’s Dolphin Adventures provide an intimate getaway for ocean lovers both young and old to experience the beauty and majesty of one of natures most intelligent creatures. The first Oceanarium to ever be built, I was surprised to learn that Marineland was the first place to both breed and train dolphins. Our family learned all this and more on our recent visit to this legendary destination.
From Cinema to Conservation
As the first Oceanarium of it’s kind Marineland
was originally conceived as an underwater movie studio named Marine Studios where camera men were able to capture revolutionary new footage of elusive marine life on film. It was the first place multiple species were placed in the same tank to coexist together. During our visit we learned that although the concept of Marineland was designed for filming, the purpose ultimately changed to one of education and conservation. For the first time the public saw ocean life up close and had the chance to gain knowledge on how to help protect them in the wild.
|Revenge of the Creature had scenes filmed at Marineland. This was one of several films shot on site.
Evolving Through Time
Marineland originally opened in the 1930s and experienced a large public following for many decades. As time and technology advanced the programming at Marineland began turning towards a new era in it’s existence. During an active hurricane season in the early 2000s, Marineland made the decision to close down temporarily, rebuild it’s facility and restart it’s dolphin program as one based more upon education and interactive experiences rather than dolphin shows.
Today visitors can get up close and personal with the 14 Atlantic Bottle Nose dolphins that call Marineland home through a variety of experiences. Our family enjoyed the popular Touch and Feed experience where we got to feed and pet one of the gentle dolphins residing in the 1.3 million gallon facility. Guests could also be seen swimming with the dolphins in a total immersion program (totally envy worthy), as well as touring behind the scenes through historic memorabilia and Marineland’s private aquarium collection.
|The Touch and Feed program allows guests to experience a dolphin up close and personal.
|During our visit we were able to connect with one of Marineland’s dolphins in a magical moment we will always remember.
The Future is Bright
The future is bright for Marineland as it’s new mission is attracting young and old alike. In addition the Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta’s famous downtown aquarium) acquired Marineland in 2011 ensuring future development and a larger network of support. Projects like Neptune park which houses their breeding tank of rare sharks, as well as several sea turtle tanks, will now continue to see future growth as an additional attraction on the grounds.
After 20 plus years of living in North Florida I can’t believe I had never visited Marineland. Our visit to this iconic destination was as eye opening as it was inspiring. We can’t wait to return and swim with the dolphins next time!
xo- Amy West
- Marineland is entirely outdoors. Plan for weather accordingly. It was a warm day when we went and I was grateful we scheduled our activities earlier in the day.
- The facility is wheelchair and stroller friendly.
- General admission gets you in to see the dolphins and Neptune Park where the sea turtle tanks and shark tanks are housed. More interactive experiences are available at a variety of price points.
- Children must be over the age of 3 to participate in the touch and feed program.
* Special thanks to Marineland’s Terran McGinnis for the hours she spent educating us on Mainland’s rich history and present day efforts.
We were guests of Marineland, however all opinions on the blog are completely my own.
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