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Just a little south of the historic district of St. Augustine, FL, nestled along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, sits Marineland, a dolphin encounter. Originally built as a marine film studio in 1938 where movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature, and Zat had scenes filmed. (Extra points to anyone that has watched any of those movies.) However, its real success came from the excitement that Marineland created among the general public. Marineland provided the general public, for the first time ever, the chance to see live dolphins up close. Since the opening of it’s doors, Marineland continues to encourage dolphin viewing and interaction to guests.
Today, Marineland is a top of the line, modern facility that meets the needs of animal, trainer, scientists, and guests. Long past are the days of dolphin shows, instead Marineland educates the general public so they understand the need to protect these animals and their marine environment. They provide this education in a fun and interactive way through a variety of opportunities. Em & I learned more about dolphin life while we held a canvas for Lily the dolphin to paint us a picture.
Arriving at the facility we checked in and made our way over to the dolphin habitat to meet the trainer, Katie. She has been working at Marineland for 8 years and has many more years experience at other locations. She was fun, enthusiastic and her love of dolphins really shone through. Katie explained how Lily would paint us a picture, had us select three colors and introduced us to Lily.
As we stood near the very large in-ground pool that came up to about our hips we could hear the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing behind us and felt the cool ocean winds brush against us. Then it was time to paint. The trainer dabbed paint on brush, asked Lily to hold onto it and we held our canvas out over the water. Lily quickly painted a few lines for us and then we moved our canvas away. We repeated this a couple times until our canvas was perfect.
After Lily was done painting Katie talked to us a little more about dolphins and let us hold hands/flippers with her and touch her skin (she was super soft). We absolutely loved painting with Lily. We enjoyed learning more about dolphin life and how the trainers work with them.
After our painting was done we moved onto a Behind The Scenes tour and learned even more about Marineland’s history and seen the small on-site aquarium. There are historical photos and a few historical displays that depict Marineland’s past. It’s worth a visit if you are interested in learning how they got their start and how they’ve evolved over the years. I enjoyed the Behind the Scenes tour, but young children may become restless during the tour.
Disclosure: I was hosted by Marineland in order to share my experience with all my wonderful readers. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.