Friday, May 10, 2013

Swimming With A Dolphin For Madison

During our trip to Palm Beach, FL, we visited Marineland so Madison could swim with the dolphins.  It is located south of St. Augustine and only about five minutes from where we were staying with friends, David and Peggy, at Palm Coast.

“Marineland of Florida” opened in 1938 as “Marine Studios” and had 30,000+ guests the first day.  In the fifties, it was the most popular tourist destination in Florida.  Through the years, other attractions opened, storms hit, the facility and visitors declined, and it fell on hard times. 

In 2004, it began to transform itself into “Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center” which opened in 2006 and is focused on education and intimate animal-human interactions.  In 2011, it was sold to Georgia Aquarium and now has some good financial backing.

They don’t really have shows like you might see at Sea World but focus on learning about and swimming with the dolphins, however the dolphins do put on quite a show before and during the swimming part as can be seen from some of my shots, such as the header.

Madison’s group consisted of four kids and one adult (one kid’s dad) and their event began with a 30 minute orientation where they were told about the dolphins in the tanks and how they trained them (one of them was born in the late 50's).  Then it was into the pool to be up close and personal with one of them with each swimmer getting equal time and making the motions the trainers use to get the dolphins to respond.

The first set of shots and the header were taken when we arrived and while the swimmers were in orientation – I was pleased the shots thru the tank glass came out so well.

These are shots during the swim session which lasted about 30 minutes.  Madison, the redhead, declined a wet suit and learned a valuable lesson in the 70* water – she looked pretty cold the whole time.

They were supposed to be closer in the last shot but Madison didn't get into the middle of the glass.

She seemed to have a great time and I believe it was a memorable experience.  I carped a little when Bev said it was $200, but after seeing the experience the kids got, it was worth it and it must be popular as there is a two month waiting list during the summer.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


4/29/13 event date


  1. What a great adventure for Madison and one she'll never forget. Wild dolphins swam by our house almost daily in the islands. We could hear them when they came near the shore, fishing for their lunch or dinner. Sometimes the little ones would put on a performance and show-off in front of our dock.

    I think it's much better for Madison to have swum with those in the tank than the ones in the wild. Way cool post Larry.

  2. Love that last photo. What a great experience for her. That red hair of hers is absolutely beautiful.

  3. What a great experience for Madison. I got the wonderful chance to do the same thing back in 2003 - it was amazing! Dolphins are incredible.

  4. Now that looks like a very cool thing to do, I am sure she will talk about it forever! I would be the one in three wet suits- 70 is cold for me!!

  5. Larry, Laurie and I, well mostly Laurie, swam with the dolphins down in the Florida Keys. It was a great experience...she really loved it! I'm sure that Madison will always remember this adventure as well. It was well worth the money... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  6. Our daughters got to swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta when they were about Madison's age. I don't think they'll ever forgot the wonderful experience.

  7. HI Larry, You all were in my neck of the woods down there. I lived in Jacksonville for about 5 yrs and my brothers lived in St. Augustine. I always thought that St. Aug has the most beautiful beaches in the world. I remember Marineland from MANY years ago --long before it was as fancy as it is now... Wow!!!

    We just got home from a week at Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. Had a fabulous time.... We too enjoyed the fresh seafood. YUM.

    Happy Mother's Day.

  8. That is great and an awesome experience!

  9. Wonderful memories for Madison. My parents used to take us there in the 1960's when we lived in Chattanooga. I have so many photos of myself, sister and brothers wearing goofy hats, striped shirts and plastic sunglasses from Marineland. So glad they're still around and offering exceptional experiences!

  10. Trevor and Alexis got to do that during a cruise a few years ago and he loved it, remembers it to this day.


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