With its roots in conservation, Marineland Dolphin Adventure near St Augustine, Florida is on call to provide aide to injured sea animals in the area. The staff of Marineland do everything they can to save and support injured sea life and return it to the waters, if possible. They also offer dolphin encounters of many types as a means of encouraging and inspiring visitors to respect marine mammals and their environment. Educational programs include Touch and Feed opportunities, summer camps, immersion encounters, observation stations, and more.
Our visit to Marineland Dolphin Adventure began with a tour of the complex to gain some insight into Marineland operations and to meet some of the creatures who call this place home. We first met a pair of sea turtles who came to Marineland after becoming injured and unable to support themselves in the wild.
We learned of Marineland’s history, which originally began as a movie studio and window to the sea. We then moved onto the aquarium room, which contained a variety of sea life from living octopi to horseshoe crabs and fish. Our timing was perfect because one of the staff was there, ready to feed some of the animals. Feeding time was truly a treat. My son was even able to spot a sea star that had been hiding, unseen, for quite a while. The staff member was very excited that he could now report that he’d seen it!
We watched a week-old dolphin calf, swimming with its mother. It’s always special to witness mothers with their children in the animal kingdom. It was interesting to learn that none of the animals here were removed from their wild habitats. That practice has ended, but the dolphins here continued to mate and produce future generations of animals that we enjoy today.
The staff interactions, as well as my own experience with the dolphins, struck me as a relationship we, as humans, have with our dogs, horses and other animal companions. As we anticipated this experience, I expected to meet a wild animal, which was not at all the case. Just a note, though, that it is important to heed the trainers’ instructions on how to properly interact with the dolphins.
Above all, my favorite portion of our dolphin encounter was learning about the anatomy of these powerful creatures. Our family was assigned a dolphin named, “Lily,” for our encounter. The trainer had Lily come near us so we could get an up close look at her muscular, streamlined body. We were able to feel her thick, smooth skin as we rubbed her belly like a friendly pooch. Lily gave us a look inside her mouth to see her conical teeth and we learned how to tell the difference between male and female dolphins. She surprised us with a blast of air from her blowhole, and showed us the power behind her tail with a big splash.
We spent the rest of our encounter in wonder at this intelligent being and her abilities to interact with other species. The encounter gave my family a better appreciation for the intelligence and power of these animals. We learned about the challenges they face in the wild. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
Once our immersion experience was over, we took the Ripple Effect Eco Tour for an opportunity to view some of these magnificent beings in the wild. I highly recommend a Dolphin Encounter and Ripple Effect Eco Tour as part of your homeschooling experience.
Disclosure: Thank you to Marineland Dolphin Encounter for the complimentary experience for my family and me. While I appreciate their generosity, the opinions here are my own. I also appreciate their assistance in taking many of the photos shown here.
About the Author Candy Cook is a devoted homeschooling mom & life-long learner packing a camera, an internet connection, & 855 open browser tabs. An engine of fascination, she can generate projects on a staggering scale, unleashing indiscriminate passion. As a disciple of chaos, she draws inspiration from the natural world releasing it through written word and award-winning photography. You can find her on Facebook andTwitter.