Have you or your kids dreamed about swimming with dolphins? You’ll find that dream turn into a reality at Marineland Dolphin Adventure in Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches. Getting up close to these intelligent and beautiful animals is a special experience that you will treasure forever. Here’s what makes Marineland a must-visit during your next trip to Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches.
Make memories in a historic place.
Fulfill your lifelong goal of interacting with dolphins at the place that has led the way for more than 80 years. Marineland was the world’s first oceanarium and opened in 1938 as an underwater filming studio for Hollywood movies. This was the first time people had been able to see dolphins up close. “I always say Marineland both guided the public’s perception of dolphins but also was guided by the public’s perception of dolphins,” says Terran McGinnis, Manager of Education and Community Development. Marineland was the first place to train dolphins. As people’s love of dolphins grew, Marineland introduced shows and programs where visitors could get more hands-on. In the 1940s, Marineland became the first to successfully breed bottlenose dolphins. Today, the dolphins you interact with come from breeding programs at Marineland and other similar facilities, and are not collected from the wild.
Confidence in knowing the dolphins are well cared for.
Since its beginning, Marineland has set the standards for dolphin encounters and care. “We know all our dolphins individually,” says McGinnis, who notes that just like people, dolphins have distinct personalities. Some prefer the more athletic activities and love nothing more than to swim fast, play with balls and splash around. Others prefer the more quiet encounters. Trainers are finely in tune to the daily moods of each dolphin. “I think one thing people really don’t know is how much thought goes into the program, how we can set the dolphins up to succeed and have as much fun as the people do,” she says.
Just as dolphins have unique personalities, they also have unique metabolisms and nutritional needs. A specific menu is put together for each dolphin. That capelin or herring you fed them? That was from the day’s carefully measured out feeding schedule, so the dolphins get the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and calories. Every shipment of fish is analyzed in the lab for its fat content and nutrients, and the Marineland team adjusts meals to make sure the dolphins get the right balance.
Interacting with dolphins is a transformative experience.
It’s an indescribable, emotional activity, getting to interact one-on-one with these majestic animals. And for parents, there’s nothing like seeing the joy of your children having their dreams come true. The ultimate adventure at Marineland is submerging into the water to surround yourself in the dolphins’ habitat. It culminates in holding on to the dolphin’s dorsal fins as you go along for a ride or zooming through the water while dolphins push your feet. But there are so many different ways to get up close with dolphins at Marineland.
No need to get wet. At dockside encounters you can touch, feed and play ball with dolphins. You can even hold up a canvas while a dolphin paints you a unique work of art you’ll get to keep. In-water encounters accommodate a variety of comfort levels and swimming abilities. The facilities (redesigned in 2006) accommodate children, seniors and those with disabilities. Whichever way you choose to interact with dolphins at Marineland, you will create an unforgettable bond with these incredible animals.
There’s more to Marineland than just dolphins.
Beyond dolphins, you’ll be wowed by the sea turtles, tortoises, sand tiger sharks, fish, coral and more that call Marineland home. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll learn fun facts about the animals. Did you know that red-footed tortoises can live up to 50 years? You’ll see and touch their intricately colorful shells during Tortoise Time. There are also plenty of opportunities for viewing sea turtles. From the side of the tank, you can watch how effortlessly they glide through the water. Count the colorful fish in the tropical exhibit, and see if you can spot a moray eel. And don’t miss the daily shark talk!
Education and conservation are key pillars.
From the beginning, Marineland has been committed to education. “We wanted to make sure that people were changed by the experience,” explains McGinnis. “That knowledge, partnered with inspiration because they had just fallen in love with these animals, would lead to action and hopefully make the world better for marine life.” Even if you don’t participate in one of the interactive dolphin programs you can learn about the animals and other ocean life at an educational talk or demonstration. The staff is always nearby to answer questions.
A place to cultivate your appreciation for dolphins.
Do more with your newfound passion for dolphins at Marineland. When you want to learn more about what it takes to care for, feed and train the animals, you can participate in the Aquarist for a Day or Trainer for a Day programs. On the Behind the Seas Walking Tour, you’ll learn about Marineland’s pioneering research and conservation efforts. Go beyond the tanks and look for wild dolphins on an eco-educational kayaking tour of the area’s pristine waterways with Marineland’s neighboring partner, Ripple Effect Ecotours. For your aspiring marine biologist, Marineland offers day camps that focus on science, exploration, and conservation and include a dolphin encounter. If you plan a longer trip to Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches this summer, Marineland has weeklong camps in June and July for ages 7 to 17.