Miami Seaquarium is a marine amusement park located on Virginia Key Island in Biscayne Bay which is very close to downtown Miami, Florida.
Dating back to 1955, the amusement park is the longest running oceanarium in the USA. The amusement park was the brainchild of Fred D Coppock and Captain W.B. Gray and when it first opened, it was the world’s largest marine life attraction.
The amusement park has also been celebrated in TV and film when, between 1963 and 1967, almost 90 TV episodes and two feature length films of ‘Flipper’ were produced here.
The most famous, popular (and some might say controversial) attraction at the amusement park is Lolita, the amusement park’s lone female orca whale. Also known by the name of ‘Tokitae’, the whale was about 6 years old when she was captured from Puget Sound in Washington State in 1970. She measures 22 feet and weighs in at approximately 8, 000 pounds. And, almost 40 years later, she has continued to perform in 1 or 2 shows daily at the amusement park.
The controversy over Lolita stems from the fact that many conservationists believe that she should be released back to her native waters at Puget Sound. They point to the fact that she has not seen another orca since 1980 and that her tank is smaller than the recommendations laid down by the Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service. Nevertheless, Lolita remains one of the most popular attractions at the amusement park.
Another favourite at the amusement park is the Dolphin Odyssey where as well as learning so much about these magnificent mammals through observation, you have the opportunity to hug, kiss and swim with these amazing creatures.
The amusement park also features great shows by the California Sea Lions and the Harbor Seals.
In addition to the dolphins and whales, there are plenty of other creatures to observe. Manatees have been an endangered species in Florida for quite some time but the amusement park have long been supportive of rescuing these unusual looking creatures and, back in 1975, the amusement park provided the location for the birth of the first manatee in captivity.
The amusement park has also been positive in creating an endangered mangrove habitat called Discovery Bay where you can witness 25 Nile crocodiles, alligators and native birds such as herons, ibis and egrets. There is also a programme relating to sea turtles here which the amusement park originally rescued and which will be released after their rehabilitation. There is a tremendous focus on conservation, education and the protection of marine life, particularly sea turtles and manatees, throughout the amusement park which attracts over 600, 000 visitors every year.