Visiting the Dolphins at Marineland in St. Augustine, Florida


The last time I visited Marineland, I was about 7 years old. A lot has changed since I was there last so I was curious to see the changes and developments of the historic landmark.  Located just past the southern end of Anastasia island. Marineland is located in Crescent beach which is 18 miles south of St Augustine. It’s a beautiful drive there, especially near the Mantanzas Inlet where there is a wilderness conservation area that I have not been to personally in years but i remember how beautiful it was then and is definitely worth checking out

Historically, in May 1937, founders C.V. Whitney, Douglas Burden, and Ilia Tolstoy authorized construction of Marine Studios and began its opening to the public in1938 as the world’s first oceanarium and underwater motion picture studio. The opening of the park drew 20,000 people. Later on, it was renamed Marineland to attract more tourism as well as being a motion picture site. The new word at the time, “ oceanarium” was used to described the huge tanks of marine life living together as they do naturally, rather than kept apart in different tanks. No one had attempted building such a large aquarium or building a facility that allows constant and direct exchange of water from the ocean.

Interestingly, Marineland was closed to the public in December 1941 during WWII so that the US Coast Guard used the facility to train combat dogs as well as government-contracted reasearch conducted regarding shark repellents! The resulting product was included in the downed Army and Navy pilots’ sea survival kits.

By 1946, Marineland returned to fully operational and regained being one of the top tourist attractions. Notably, the first curator, Arthur McBride’s research leads to the discovery of echolocation in dolphins and Nellie, the dolphin was born on Feb 27th, 1953. She lived to be the oldest dolphin in any oceanarium in the world until her death at the age of 61 in 2014! In 1986, the property was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Nowadays, Marineland is know as ” Marineland: The Dolphin Conservation Center “. It was founded to foster the preservation and protection of marine life. Marineland’s new mission is to utilize interactive education, inspire visitors to value and respect marine mammals and their environment enhanced by on-site research.

From my perspective, the park definitely appeared to be in sort of a transition period and it turns out they are; in addition to the new 1.3 million gallon dolphin habitat facility, restoration plans include an oceanarium for diving, snorkeling, and more animal encounters as well as a museum, restaurant/bar, expanded retail space, and event rooms for private functions.

Some of the current project the Conservation Center is working on include testing an animal’s hearing by using

  • Evoked Potential Audiometry or EPA eliminating the need to train dolphins to perform specific behaviors in response or absence of specific sounds.
  • The Right Whale Survey – the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale has only approximately 345 of the whales with an average of 12 calves born each year. By monitoring these populations, the principal goals includes to decrease ship strikes and entanglement as well as studying the population, reproductions, habitat, and behvior use to enhance conservation and recovery of the species.
  • the last project is  the Genome Project which the experiment tests the possibility of using a new technology with dolphins to monitor diagnostic  to get informative data about changes in mammalian health including oncology, disease, toxicology, and pharmacology. As dolphins are exposed to more harmful stimuli in their natural environments, the gene chips help scientists quickly identify cellular and genetic changes in specific populations of marine mammals.
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  • For more information on visiting and even interacting with the dolphins, please visit: Marineland
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    Marineland Dolphin Adventure
    9600 Oceanshore Blvd.
    St. Augustine, FL 32080
    Phone: 904-471-1111 or 877-933-3402
    Fax: 904-460-133
    Make your reservations online by clicking here or contact our Reservations Department at (904) 471-1111, ext. 116 or 877-933-3402, ext. 116, seven days a week, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST.



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