Please note that this marine facility review is based off of research, observation, and interviewing trainers. It is in no way based off of emotions or a few articles online.
The General Behavior of Marineland’s Dolphins
The dolphins at Marineland scarcely float lifelessly at the surface like some anti-captivity activists may suggest. In fact, they are almost always swimming around, playing, interacting, and socializing with each other. They are also the most playful and interactive group of dolphins I have visited in a marine facility. They often swim up the viewing glass to play with guests, and some of the educators will occasionally encourage the dolphins to come play and interact with visitors!
I have been to Marineland many times, and each time I have always noted the dolphins’ behavior. My observations have brought me to the conclusion that Marineland Florida’s dolphins are content, happy, and healthy.
The Marineland Dolphin Pod’s Diet
Staff at Marineland Florida feeds the dolphins in their care restaurant-quality fish. They also try to mimic the natural feeding habits of wild dolphins by feeding their dolphins many smaller meals throughout the day, instead of a few big meals. Because frozen fish lack some of the nutrients and hydration that live fish have, Marineland also gives their dolphins vitamin and hydration supplements to keep them strong and healthy.
Although Marineland does not have a veterinarian on site, there are several that they can call in if need be. Marineland also regularly takes blood, fecal, and other samples from their dolphins. This prepares the dolphins for an occasion when it may be crucial to collect samples from them, as they will be completely used to the procedure and will not panic in a critical situation.
Although I do not know of any special research projects Marineland is conducting on their dolphins, the more we learn about dolphins at responsible facilities, the more we can help protect them in the wild. I do know, however, that they are doing a study on some of the sharks in their care.
Training & Performances
Although Marineland of Florida does not do special shows, they do offer several in-the-water and beside-the-pool interactions with dolphins. They also do training sessions with the dolphins, and these are visible to all guests. Marineland, like all western marine facilities these days, uses positive reinforcement to train their dolphins. Positive reinforcement is a training method in which the dolphin is rewarded for correctly performing a behavior and ignored for a few seconds for incorrectly performing a behavior, as opposed to being rewarded for correct behavior and punished for incorrect behavior. The dolphins are not forced to participate in sessions or interaction programs, but almost always do so at will. The dolphins also act as though they are very enthusiastic about participating in training sessions and interactions with guests.
Education & Inspiration
Marineland is definitely big on education and inspiration. Several educators are always near the viewing area to answer any visitors’ questions, and the first part of the interaction programs with the dolphins is dedicated to teaching the human participants about dolphins and how we can help protect them in the wild. Marineland has also posted several signs and graphics around the dolphin viewing area that educate guests about wild dolphins and how to help preserve them. The dolphin pod at this facility, being the most playful and interactive group of dolphins in captivity that I have come across so far, definitely play their part in inspiration by occasionally interacting with visitors at the viewing glass, as shown in the photo above. Sometimes an educator will also play with the dolphins in this way, giving the visitors who are also standing at the viewing glass an up close, personal look at the dolphins. These kinds of interactions inspire people to to care about the ocean and have a desire to do their part in its preservation. I know this, as I was first inspired to have that passion after a personal, up close encounter with Nalani the Killer Whale at SeaWorld Orlando.
Where Does Marineland Get Their Dolphins From?
Most of the dolphins currently living at Marineland were born at that facility. A few were born at other facilities and later transferred to Marineland, and only two were wild caught. Out of these two, only one was captured by Marineland, and this was back in 1972. Although Marineland has captured other dolphins in the past, they do not capture wild dolphins anymore, and they do not support or buy dolphins that were captured in a drive hunt. In fact, Marineland actually opposes drive hunts on their website (click here to read).
Summary of Marineland of Florida
Based off of my research, observations, and interviewing trainers, I have come to the conclusion that Marineland is one of the most responsible and caring facilities out there.
Would I Recommend Marineland to a friend? YES!
My Rating For Their Dolphin Care: Five stars out of five.