Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Isn't Always Better

Another example of the old and the new is Marineland, just south of St. Augustine. This attraction has been around since 1938 and I remember it well from when our family used to visit in the 1960's. Back then, besides the dolphin act, my favorite part was viewing all the fish and sharks through windows cut in the side of the huge tanks. Several years ago they offered a program where you could swim in a tank with the turtles and rays, and Dave and I couldn't resist.

Unfortunately all this has changed. The fish tanks had to be torn down after one of the hurricanes a couple of years ago, but new ones were built to accommodate the 13 dolphins still at the facility.
Now the Georgia Aquarium is the new owner and the only programs available are related to the care and feeding of the dolphins (swims with the dolphins, trainer for the day, etc.). For the general admission that we paid, we watched one of the feeding sessions from afar, but were brought up close to one of the tanks with two male dolphins in it for a few minutes.

There was no narration at all. Some educational signs have been placed around and there are volunteers to answer questions though.

As much as I always love seeing dolphins, the tanks they were in seemed so bare and sterile compared to what I'm used to seeing in the wild. Even the Dolphin Research Center, where I volunteered for several years in the Florida Keys, is so much better than this with their natural surroundings (and many educational programs). I would think that the dolphins would become bored in between feeding sessions at Marineland, compared to finding rocks, playing with fish and even seagrass at the much more interesting DRC.

We did however have a fun time walking around the grounds with Mom, reminiscing about past vacations.

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