Marineland of St Augustine!!

Now let me take you way back, back back, for a time I was not even blogging but collecting travel postcards (for info had over 4K from 76 countries). I was living in Ormond by the Sea, Florida and took a ride to see Marineland in Saint Augustine and the dolphins. It was a youthful wonderful experience and at least found an oldie picture of it that took me to write this post. Hope you enjoy it as I remembering nice memories!

I like to continue in memory lane and bring back this wonderful experience to remember forever. Let me tell you about this wonderful aquarium which should be a fantastic one two combination of Marineland and St Augustine. Hope you enjoy as I and thanks again for reading me over the years! If you search my blog you will see several posts on Florida.  


Marineland is one of Florida’s oldest amusement parks and bills itself as the world’s first oceanarium. In particular, it allows the public to swim with the dolphins. The circular oceanarium held 400,000 gallons of water circulated at 3,000 gallons per minute. This oceanarium was also 12 feet ( about 4 meters) deep and 80 feet (about 24 meters) across. with some rocks laid in on the sandy bottom. The rectangular oceanarium nicknamed “the rec tank” by staff, held 450,000 gallons (1.7 millions liters) of water circulated at 2,500 gallons ( 9450 liters) a minute.  Other exhibits complemented the shows including “Wonders of the Sea” allowing a close up of marine specimens in aquariums, an electric eel demonstrations, a penguin and flamingo displays. Just east of the circular oceanarium was another tank that originally held fresh water dolphins, manatees then was used for a shark nursery for a while then was set up as fresh water spring in the 1980s. In between shows visitors could walk freely around the oceanariums and sometimes even play catch with a friendly dolphin on the top deck. Marineland  operated a reverse osmosis water plant converting salt water to fresh water.

However, during the renovations the original 1938 Circular Oceanarium (400,000 US gallons (1,500,000 l; 330,000 imp gal)) and Rectangular Oceanarium (450,000 US gallons (1,700,000 l; 370,000 imp gal)) along with the 1952 stadium and tanks were demolished as they were well beyond repair. The old Marineland lab was also demolished. Large new tanks which contain close to 485,000 gallons of water were constructed as part of a new structure built where Whitney Park once stood. This would become the centerpiece of the new Marineland. This state of the art facility includes modern buildings, pumping station, equipment and a small museum featuring artifacts of Marineland of old. Where the original oceanariums once stood became a parking area. The old main entrance, walkway and gift shop were preserved being the only original structures left on the east side of ocean road  A1A. Areas along the old main entrance walkway were repurposed with holding tanks for sharks and rehabbed sea turtles standing in the area where the Flamingo Pond once existed. Fresh water for Marineland now arrives from an expansion of the new city of Palm Coast (godparents of my oldest son lived there before going back to Portugal)  utility system. A new water line was installed along A1A due to development in the area. The age of the original Dolphin Show at Marineland ended as the park transformed, reopened as a hands-on educational and environmental facility as the Marineland Dolphin Adventure. Guests can now interact directly with the dolphins in the new facility as well see other marine life. 

Even if a bit long would like to tell in this post the history of Marineland for old times’s sake.

The Marineland project was first conceived by W. Douglas Burden, Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, Sherman Pratt, and Ilia Tolstoy (grandson of Tolstoy) as an oceanarium that could be used for marine life films. A site south of St. Augustine on the Atlantic seaboard was chosen, which became known as the town of Marineland. Originally, the 81 km2 land was granted to the London lawyer Levett Blackborne in 1767. Grandson of the Mayor of London Sir Richard Levett, he never came to settle on these Florida lands which he entrusted to John Graham, a Georgian Loyalist who fled during the American Revolution. Subsequently, the area of ​​the current Marineland was divided into smaller plots. After solving the problem of capturing sea animals, Marine Studios opened on June 23, 1938 (the name Marineland was later adopted) with dolphins as its main attraction.

The fact that the project was developed by Leo Tolstoy’s grandson brought writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway to the local Moby Dick’s Bar. Marineland’s facilities were used for the filming of films like The Curious Creature from Black Lake in 1954 and Revenge of the Creature in 1955. In the 1960s, the park became the busiest in Florida.  Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971 created significant competition and led to a decline in attendance, However, Sea World’s entry into the Florida market eventually had a very negative impact on Marineland from the late 1970s through 2009.

In 2003, (the year me /us left Florida for France) buildings west of the A1A highway were demolished and only the original structures remained along the Atlantic coast. The following year, Marineland was completely closed for renovation, until March 4, 2006. During the works, the circular Oceanarium and the rectangular Oceanarium were destroyed. Part of the park passed into the hands of Flagler County to become the River to the Sea Preserve. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney donated 12,000 square meters of land in 1974 and the University of Florida opened Whitney Marine Laboratory next to Marineland. This allows you to study marine mammals. In 2008 the Dolphin Conservation Center was built. In 2011, the park was purchased by the Georgia Aquarium . In 2019 the park was sold once again to Dolphin Discovery who currently operates the park.

The official Marineland  Dolphin Adventure :

The St Augustine tourist office on Marineland

There you go folks, one of the original Florida amusement parks indeed and a wonderful experience with now great memories for me. Marineland was up the alley and visited several times in my youthful days of the Sunshine State of Florida. Hope you enjoy the post and do visit , a wonderful marine life experience for all.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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