In 1937, our founders, W. Douglas Burden, Cornelius Vanderbilt “Sonny” Whitney, and Ilya Tolstoy, envisioned an
underwater film studio where they could “bring the sea ashore” for film makers who had no other way to get underwater
footage in the days before SCUBA and waterproof cameras.
On June 23, 1938 the public was invited for a preview of the World’s First Oceanarium. When 30,000
people arrived, awed by native species they’d never seen, our founders realized that the community, and ultimately the world, had so much desire to learn from the oceans. By observing the staff caring for species that had formerly been seen as dangerous, unpleasant, or a food source, people were exposed to new ways of thinking about our relationship with wildlife.
By caring for these animals, our staff discovered so much that was previously unknown. Discoveries in the world of marine mammal reproduction, dolphin echolocation, water quality, and more, happened here.
Marine Studios became the premier site for marine research in the world.
• Flippy, the first dolphin ever to be trained was trained
at Marineland in 1949.
• Spray, the first dolphin to be born in human care,
was born at Marineland in 1947.
• Echolocation, signature whistles, and dolphin communication were all studied at Marineland.
• The oldest dolphin EVER in human care lived at
Marineland. Nellie was born on February 27, 1953
and lived with us for 61 years. Her son and grandson
are still here today.