Marineland Dolphin Adventure
The idea for Marineland, the World’s First Oceanarium, first came from W. Douglas Burden, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, Sherman Pratt and Ilya Tolstoy. They imagined a place where sea creatures could live and thrive in a simulated ocean environment. Fred Henderich and Company designed the premises of Marineland, and was also responsible for the Orange Street School, the Y.M.C.A. building, Plaza Bandstand, the original Flagler Hospital, Florida Normal College, Excelsior School, and the Visitor’s Center. The ocean park was constructed by Arthur Franklin Perry Co. from the Jacksonville area. “Marine Studios” opened on June 23, 1938 with its biggest attraction being the bottlenose dolphin. More than 20,000 visitors attended the opening.
Originally, Marineland consisted of a Circular Oceanarium that held 400,000 gallons of water, and a Rectangular Oceanarium that held 450,000 gallons of water. But several outside amenities began to spring up around it including the Marineland Motel, the Dolphin Restaurant, the Moby Dick Lounge, and Marineland Marina.
Marineland consists of 125 acres between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. It was made a sophisticated destination due to its association with Ilya Tolstoy who was the grandson of Leo Tolstoy, and even famous writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings graced Moby Dick’s Bar with their presence. The site was a filming location for many movies including Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, Sea Hunt, and Benji Takes a Dive. Benji was the first dog to scuba dive, and he did so at Marineland. Over 900,000 visitors came each year to Marineland through the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s to see their spectacular Dolphin show.
Throughout the years, Marineland has pioneered studies in marine science, animal training, water chemistry and more. Marineland served as the model by which other aquariums, oceanariums and marine parks based their own development and design. Marineland was also the first to successfully breed and train Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and it was the early scientists there who discovered dolphin echolocation, social behavior and communication. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, who was the major stockholder of the private company, opted to sell the marine park in the mid-1980’s. In 2004, following a series of hurricanes, Marineland retired most of the original, older structures and exhibits, and began construction on a new, updated facility focusing on education and intimate animal-human interactions.
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