Marine mammal park

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An orca performs as "Shamu" at SeaWorld San Diego

A marine mammal park (also known as marine animal park and sometimes oceanarium) is a commercial theme park or aquarium where marine mammals such as dolphins, beluga whales and sea lions are kept within water tanks and displayed to the public in special shows. A marine mammal park is more elaborate than a dolphinarium, because it also features other marine mammals and offers additional entertainment attractions. It is thus seen as a combination of a public aquarium and an amusement park. Marine mammal parks are different from marine parks, which include natural reserves and marine wildlife sanctuaries such as coral reefs, particularly in Australia.


Sea Lion Park opened in 1895 at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York City with an aquatic show featuring 40 sea lions. It closed in 1903.[citation needed]

The second marine mammal park, then called an oceanarium, was established in St. Augustine, Florida in 1938.[citation needed] It was initially a large water tank used to exhibit marine mammals for filming underwater movies, and only became later a public attraction. Today Marineland of Florida claims to be "the world's first oceanarium".[citation needed]

In November 1961, Marineland of the Pacific on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, near Los Angeles in California was the first park to display an orca in captivity, although the orca died after two days.[1] The Vancouver Aquarium was responsible for the second orca ever held alive in captivity, Moby Doll, for 3 months in 1964.[2]

Between the 1970s and the 1990s, technical advances and the public's increasing interest in aquatic environments prompted a shift to large marine mammal parks with cetaceans (mostly orcas and other species of dolphin) as attractions. Within this time

San Antonio, Texas, and Aurora, Ohio
(which has since closed down).

List of parks


Name Location
Ocean Park Hong Kong Wong Chuk Hang (Hong Kong)


Name Location
Dolphin Marine Conservation Park Coffs Harbour (Australia)
Sea World Gold Coast, Queensland (Australia)
Sea Life Sunshine Coast
Mooloolaba, Queensland


Name Location
Dolfinarium Harderwijk Harderwijk (Netherlands)
Marineland (Antibes)
Antibes (France)
Mediterraneo Marine Park Malta
Loro Parque Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife (Spain)
Onmega Dolphintherapy Center
Mediterranean (Turkey

North America

Name Location
Miami Seaquarium
Miami, FL
Discovery Cove
Orlando, FL
Delphinus Dreams Cancún
, Q.Roo (Mexico)
Delphinus Riviera Maya Riviera Maya, Q.Roo (Mexico)
Delphinus Xcaret Riviera Maya, Q.Roo (Mexico)
Delphinus Xel-Ha Riviera Maya, Q.Roo (Mexico)
Delphinus Costa Maya Costa Maya, Q.Roo (Mexico)
Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres, Q. Roo (Mexico)
Dolphin Discovery Cozumel, Q. Roo (Mexico)
Dolphin Discovery Riviera Maya, Q. Roo (Mexico)
Dolphin Research Center
Marathon, FL
San Diego, California
(United States)
SeaWorld Orlando, Florida (United States)
San Antonio, Texas
(United States)
Sea Life Park Hawaii
Oahu, Hawaii
Sea Life Park Vallarta Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit (Mexico)
Marineland of Florida St. Augustine, Florida (United States)
Marineland of Canada Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada)
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo, California (USA)
Theater of the Sea
Islamorada, Florida Keys, Florida
(United States)

South America

Name Location
Mundo Marino San Clemente del Tuyu (Argentina)

Criticism and animal welfare

Nationwide ban on dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity
De facto nationwide ban on dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity due to strict regulations
Some subnational bans on dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity
Dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity are currently being phased out ahead of a nationwide ban
Dolphinariums/marine mammal captivity legal
No data


WSPA, consider keeping whales and dolphins in captivity a form of abuse. The main argument is that whales and dolphins do not have enough freedom of movement
within their artificial environments. The existence of marine mammal parks is thus very controversially discussed.

Although sizable pools for whales and dolphins require an extraordinarily technical and financial expenditure and are usually nearly impossible to provide and maintain, many marine mammal parks endeavour to improve the conditions of captivity and attempt to engage in public education as well as scientific studies. For that purpose many marine mammal parks joined together in the "Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums", an international association dedicated to high standard of care of marine mammals. It was founded in 1987 and established offices near

Washington, DC, in 1992. One report found that there is little objective evidence to indicate that marine mammal parks furthers public knowledge.[3]

In 2010, the practice of keeping animals in captivity as trained show performers was heavily criticized when a trainer was killed by an

orca whale at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida.[4] Orcas attacks have been documented in the film Blackfish, released in 2013. In 2015, the California Coastal Commission banned the breeding of captive killer whales.[5]


See also


  1. ^ "Eye to Eye with Orky and Corky". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  2. ^ The Capture of Orcas. Archived October 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "The Case Against MARINE MAMMALS IN CAPTIVITY" (PDF).
  4. ^ Talk of the Nation (2010-03-01). "Limited Understanding Of Animals In Theme Parks". NPR. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  5. ^ "California bans captive breeding of SeaWorld killer whales". The Guardian. 9 October 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2016.

External links