faqsstrip

FACILITY QUESTIONS
What makes Theater of the Sea a unique marine animal facility?
What is included in the price of admission? How long does it take to see the shows?
What is the lagoon-side beach?
Do you have a kennel for pets?
What kind of pools do the animals live in at Theater of the Sea?
How big is the lagoon?
Do you have a restaurant on the property?
Can we bring in our own food and drinks?
Are any discounts available? Do you have a season pass?
Do I need to make a reservation for general admission? What are your hours?
Are you open in inclement weather?
Are you wheelchair accessible?
Haven’t popped the question yet?

ANIMAL INTERACTON PROGRAM QUESTIONS:
How long has Theater of the Sea offered dolphin swim programs?
How do I sign up for a animal interaction program?
Are there any requirements or restrictions for participating in animal interaction programs?
Can I participate in an animal interaction program if I have special needs?
What if I have to cancel or change a reservation?
What do I need to bring the day of my animal interaction program?
Can I bring my own masks, fins and snorkels?
How old do you have to be to swim with the dolphins or participate in any animal interaction program?
Do I have to be a good swimmer to participate in an animal interaction program?
Do the trainers get in the water with us during the swim?
Can I take photos of my swim?
What do the observers get to do?
Why can’t pregnant women swim with the dolphin?
How long are the animal interaction programs? How many people participate in an animal interaction program at one time?
Do the stingrays have barbs?

DOLPHIN QUESTIONS:
How do you become a trainer?
Does Theater of the Sea have an internship or volunteer program?
Is the dolphin at Theater of the Sea the same dolphin I see listed on restaurant menus?
How do you train the dolphins?
Is food deprivation used to train the animals?
Do the animals ever not perform? 
How long does it take to train a behavior?
Is it easier to train and work with a dolphin born at a facility? Males or females? Young or older animals? Dolphins or sea lions?
How intelligent are the dolphins and sea lions?
Do dolphins breed well in captivity?
Do dolphins save people?
Can dolphins heal you?
Do the animals ever get sick or die?
How long do dolphins live?
Are they happy?
Do you think that the dolphins in your Swim with the Dolphin program enjoy swimming with people?
Where do you get your dolphins?
What is your opinion on the Japanese Drvie Fisheries?
Do you think it is right to have them in captivity?
Is the government involved with your facility?
Will you ever release your dolphins?
Do dolphins in the wild swim with people? What would happen if I swam with a wild dolphin?
What are the predators and threats to wild dolphins?


FACILITY QUESTIONS

What makes Theater of the Sea a unique marine animal facility?

Theater of the Sea is family owned and operated since 1946. Our animals live in natural salt water lagoons. The shows are up close and personal and guest participation is encouraged.
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What is included in the price of admission? How long does it take to see the shows?

General admission to the park includes dolphin, sea lion, parrot, and guided marine life shows, access to the lagoon side beach, and a 5-minute bottomless boat ride around the dolphin lagoon. One of the shows is always taking place; guests join the one that is in progress when they arrive and should plan to spend 2 to 3 hours in the park. After enjoying the shows and programs, guests can browse in our unique gift shop, dine at Nicky’s grill, and visit our private lagoon-side beach to snorkel, sunbathe, or just relax.
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What is the lagoon-side beach?

Included in the price of admission, the lagoon beach is open for guests who want to sunbathe, cool off and take a dip, and/or snorkel with a variety of tropical fish.

Chaise lounges are provided, snorkel gear and towels can be rented, and snacks and drinks can be purchased.

Showers, changing rooms, and lockers are available.

The lagoon beach is typically open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weather permitting.
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Do you have a kennel for pets?

No, but you can bring your well behaved leashed dog into the park if you clean up after them.
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What kind of pools do the animals live in at Theater of the Sea?

The animals live in natural salt-water lagoons. The water is pumped in from the Atlantic Ocean.
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How big is the lagoon?

The lagoon is three acres in size with an average depth of 15 to 20 feet. The rest of the property is about 17 acres in size and rich with tropical foliage and orchids.
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Do you have a restaurant on the property?

A snack bar/grill is available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m (closing time will vary with season) and serves a variety of delicious foods including pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and seafood.  There are several vending machines with cold drinks located throughout the property. For more on dining click here.
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Can we bring in our own food and drinks?

No outside food or drinks are permitted in the park.
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Are any discounts available? Do you have a season pass?

Click here for discounts and coupons.
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Do I need to make a reservation for general admission? What are your hours?

You do NOT need to make a reservation for general admission.

Theater of the Sea is open 365 days a year. Ticket counter hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Office and registration hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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Are you open in inclement weather?

We conduct our shows and programs even if it is cold or raining. Postponements will occur if there is lightning in the area, but these storms are typically short lived and transient.
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Are you wheelchair accessible?

Yes we are.
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Haven’t popped the question yet?

Contact us at animalcare@theaterofthesea.com to discuss how we can incorporate your proposal of marriage into any of our shows or swims/programs, without your intended suspecting a thing! Free with general admission or purchase of special program.
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ANIMAL INTERACTION PROGRAM QUESTIONS:

How long has Theater of the Sea offered dolphin swim programs?

A pioneer in animal interactive programs, Theater of the Sea offers several animal interaction programs including:

  • Swim with the Dolphin (since 1987)
  • Meet the Sea Lion and Meet the Dolphin (since 1994)
  • Swim with the Rays (since 1997)
  • Swim with the Sea Lion (since 1998)
  • Wade with the Dolphin (since 2000)
  • Paint with the Dolphin and Paint with the Sea Lion (since 2007)
  • Meet the Sea Turtle (since 2009)
  • Swim with the Sharks (since 2013)
  • Adventure and Snorkel Cruise

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How do I sign up for an animal interaction program?

Reservations by phone, in person, or through the website are recommended well in advance. Participants can sign up on a walk-in basis IF there is availability.
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Are there any requirements or restrictions for participating in animal interaction programs?

Please visit our requirements, restrictions and policies page.
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Can I participate in an animal interaction program if I have special needs?

Yes! But please let us know ahead when making your reservation so we can accommodate you accordingly.
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What if I have to cancel or change a reservation?

You can change your reservation at any time as long as there are availabilities.

You can cancel your reservation up to 7 days before the program date. After that you will be charged the full amount of the program unless we can sell it.
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What do I need to bring the day of my animal interaction program?

Please bring swimwear and a towel if you are getting in the water for a Swim with the Dolphin, Sea Lion, Sharks, or Stingrays.

We supply fins, masks, and snorkels and we also supply life jackets if needed.

Wetsuit rentals are available for a $10.00 fee.

Changing rooms, outdoor showers, and lockers are available and locks can be rented for a $10.00 refundable deposit.

Please wear only environmentally friendly insect repellent and mineral (zinc or titanium oxide) not chemical based sunscreen. We have Panama Jack Guides and Outfitters sunscreen available in our gift shop.
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Can I bring my own masks, fins and snorkels?

Yes you can. Water shoes may be worn instead of fins for parts of the ray, shark, and sea lion swim, but we do not provide these so bring your own.
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How old do you have to be to swim with the dolphins or participate in any animal interaction program?

Participants for Paint with the Sea Lion or Dolphin must be 3 or older.

There is no minimum age requirement for Wade with the Dolphin.

Participants in all of our other animal interaction programs must be at least 5 years of age.

For in water programs (dolphin swim, dolphin wade, sea lion swim, ray swim, and shark swim), a parent or guardian must be a paying participant in the program with any child age 7 or younger.

All minors must have a notarized liability waiver signed by a parent or appointed guardian prior to program participation.
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Do I have to be a good swimmer to participate in an animal interaction program?

You should be comfortable in the water.

The Meet the Dolphin, Meet the Sea Lion, Paint with the Dolphin, Paint with the Sea Lion, and Meet the Sea Turtle are out of the water programs.

The Wade with the Dolphin is available for non-swimmers and swimmers alike.

The Swim with the Sea Lion, Swim with the Rays, and Swim with the Sharks take place on a shallow water sandy beach and snorkeling is available.

The Swim with the Dolphin takes place in a 15 to 20 foot deep lagoon, but participants do not tread water the entire time. However, you need to be comfortable in deep water.
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Do the trainers get in the water with us during the swim?

No. Typically the trainers oversee the interaction from out of the water.
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Can I take photos of my swim?

Yes. Also, Theater of the Sea has staff photographers who take digital photos and videos by request. These are available for purchase just after your program.
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What do the observers get to do?

The observers can accompany animal interaction program participants to the swim areas, watch the educational orientation and the special program interaction, and of course join the dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows, bottomless boat ride, nature tour, lagoon-side beach and guided marine life tour.
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Why can’t pregnant women swim with the dolphin?

For safety reasons, pregnant women are discouraged from participating in vigorous physical activities like scuba diving. The Swim with the Dolphin is a vigorous physical activity.
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How long are the animal interaction programs? How many people participate in an animal interaction  program at one time?

After a 10 to 20 minute orientation preceding each program…

Swim with the Sea Lion 20 to 30 minutes for up to 6 people
Swim with the Rays 30 minutes for up to 6 people
Swim with the Sharks 20 minutes for up to 4 guests
Paint with the Dolphin or Sea Lions 20 minutes for up to 2 people
Meet the Dolphin or Sea Lion 20 minutes for up to 6 people
Meet the Sea Turtle 20 minutes for up to 4 people
Swim with the Dolphin and Wade with the Dolphin 30 minutes for varying group size up to 10 depending on the numbers of dolphins; same amount of behaviors and interaction time per person regardless. Dolphin swimmers and waders can request to do their program in the same pool.

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Do the stingrays have barbs?

Yes, they do, but they are conditioned to allow human contact and have never injured anyone since the program began in 1997. Rays use their barbs for defense only and are harmless unless stepped on.
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DOLPHIN QUESTIONS:

How do you become a trainer?

A biology or psychology degree, participation in internship or volunteer programs, strong swimming skills, SCUBA certification, and public speaking experience are all necessary.
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Does Theater of the Sea have an internship or volunteer program?

Yes we do. Please click here for more information.
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Is the dolphin at Theater of the Sea the same dolphin I see listed on restaurant menus?

No, the dolphin you see on the menu is a dolphin fish, also known as Mahi Mahi or Dorado. Like any fish it is cold-blooded, has scales, gills, and lays eggs. The dolphin at our facility is a warm blooded, air breathing mammal that gives birth to live young, nurses its young, and has hair…a mustache that falls out shortly after birth.
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How do you train the dolphins?

  • Training at Theater of the Sea utilizes operant conditioning techniques based on positive reinforcement. Basically, desired behavior is reinforced and undesired behavior is ignored.
  • New behaviors can be taught in a number of ways including targeting, where the animal remains in contact with a target object and is led through the movements of a behavior.
  • Behaviors are often shaped in stages called approximations, where a series of gradual steps build up to a final behavior.
  • The length of time it takes to train a behavior depends on the animal, the trainer, and the behavior.
  • Each trained behavior has a unique signal, such as a hand or verbal cue.
  • Another signal, such as a whistle or the word good, is called a bridge and indicates that a behavior has been performed correctly and will be reinforced.
  • A reinforcer is anything that increases the likelihood of the behavior, such as food or attention.
  • Since any reaction to a behavior is potentially reinforcing, unwanted behavior is ignored.
  • With training, behaviors the animals do naturally can be shaped into those performed for shows, programs, and medical procedures.

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Is food deprivation used to train the animals?

No. Our animals receive their diet daily unless they don’t want it.
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Do the animals ever not perform?

They have the option of participating in sessions and although very rare, they sometimes choose not to.
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How long does it take to train a behavior?

Depending on the trainer, the animal, and the behavior it can vary from one session to months.
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Is it easier to train and work with a dolphin born at a facility? Males or females? Young or older animals? Dolphins or sea lions?

It depends on the individual.
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How intelligent are the dolphins and sea lions?

This is a difficult question to answer since we cannot even accurately assess human intelligence.  I can tell you that they learn well and are very cooperative.
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Do dolphins breed well in captivity?

Yes they do. 65% of dolphins in human care were born there.
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Do dolphins save people?

Anything is possible, but this is most likely a myth.
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Can dolphins heal you?

No scientific data exists to suggest that dolphins can heal people. However, there are many human/animal interactions that have therapeutic benefits.
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Do the animals ever get sick or die?

All animals get sick and die. We provide the animals here with the best of care and train them to do medical behaviors so that we can closely monitor their health.
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How long do dolphins live?

Life span varies with the dolphins just as with humans or any animal, but there are a few dolphins that have lived into their 50’s.

Current scientific data show that bottlenose dolphins in Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums member facilities live longer than their counterparts in the wild.  The median life expectancy of a one-year-old bottlenose dolphin in Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums member facilities is 24.3 years.
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Are they happy?

They certainly seem to be and I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t think so.
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Do you think that the dolphins in your Swim with the Dolphin program enjoy swimming with people?

I think they do. They have been conditioned to allow contact with people; however, participation in sessions is optional. Also, the pools have a dolphin only area they can go to an anytime where no humans are allowed. It is very rare that they choose not to interact or use the dolphin only area.
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Where do you get your dolphins?

Some were born here, some were collected from the wild in the 60s & 70s, some were stranded, and some are from other facilities.
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What is your opinion on the Japanese Drive Fisheries?

Theater of the Sea condemns the Japanese drive fisheries. It is a centuries-old practice, but it is time for it to come to an end.
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Do you think it is right to have them in captivity?

I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t think it was. Man keeps many animals in his care; it is ironic few people question whether or not these other animals should be in captivity. We only wish that all animals were as well cared for as well as marine mammals and all of our animals.
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Is the government involved with your facility?

Yes. We do not receive any government funding, but Theater of the Sea houses a number of species that are protected by the state and/or federal government, including the sea turtles, crocodile, raptors, dolphins, and sea lions. To display them at the facility we must have permits which are granted only if we meet the established government criteria for their care and maintenance.
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Will you ever release your dolphins?

No.

This has not been successful in the past as the animals had lost their ability to find food and avoid predators as well as lost their natural fear of humans that any wild animal should have. Dolphins approaching people looking for food or interaction face many risks. These include:

  • Boat injuries
  • Being fed, intentionally or not, poor quality fish or objects that they should not ingest
  • Being deliberately injured by those who view them as nuisance animals and use them as scapegoats for declining fish populations

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Do dolphins in the wild like to swim with people? What would happen if I swam with a wild dolphin?

It is prohibited by the Marine Mammal Protection Act to harass a marine mammal, which includes approaching, swimming with, or feeding a wild marine mammal. This is for the safety and well being of both marine mammals and humans.

Normally, wild animals tend to keep a distance from people, but when people feed and interact with them, they can lose their natural fear of humans and become vulnerable to a variety of problems.

This is also why it’s not so easy to release animals who have been in human care.

Marine mammals who are accustomed to being fed by people:

  • spend unusual amounts of time near boats, have been struck by them, and cut by propellers.
  • can learn to steal fish off fishing lines, ingesting monofilament line and hooks.
  • have been fed inappropriate food such as poor quality/spoiled fish, beer, ice cream, or non- edible items.
  • can lose their natural behaviors, impacting their ability to cope and live in the wild.
  • are at risk for encountering people who view them as nuisances.  The National Marine Fisheries Service have reports of marine mammals who have been shot, fed explosives, or injured by other means.

There are also risks for humans who attempt to interact with wild marine mammals:

  • Any animal who feels threatened is capable of aggression.
  • Animals who become moochers can get pushy and aggressive when they don’t get the handouts they have come to expect.

Click here to learn more from a wild dolphin.
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What are the predators and threats to wild dolphins?

Sharks and killer whales can prey on dolphins.

Even though marine mammals are protected in the United States, there are exceptions to these protection laws and they face many human imposed threats both in the United States and worldwide. Some of these threats include incidental deaths in fishing operations and indiscriminate fishing techniques, over fishing, scapegoating, native subsistence hunting, and marine debris.

Exceptions to protection laws allow for “incidental” deaths of marine mammals in fishing operations. Indiscriminate fishing techniques, such as drift nets, are used to meet consumer demand for fish, and kill everything in their path including non-target fish, sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals. These nets are often lost or discarded at sea, where they continue to kill.  410 marine mammals are killed every day as a result of bycatch alone…that is one every 3.5 minutes.

The ocean’s resources cannot compete with modern fishing techniques and over fishing, which deplete the food source for marine mammals and other marine life.

As a result of over fishing, dolphins, sea lions, and other marine mammals are often scapegoats, blamed for declining fish populations. This results in intentional killing, often legal, of both individuals and populations. For example, in Newfoundland, 300,000 harp seals are killed each year, blamed for declining codfish populations. And along the Japanese coastline, dolphins are driven into shallow bays with nets, then gaffed, and dragged ashore where they are killed. In the United States, the lethal removal of California sea lions who prey on migrating salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River has been permitted.

Exceptions to protection laws allow for native subsistence hunting of marine mammals and marine mammals are often killed in the name of cultural tradition. For example, every June in the Faroe Islands, 3,000 to 4,000 pilot whales are driven by boats into coves and slaughtered.  The United States permits aboriginal whaling in Alaska with established quotas for hunting bowhead whales, belugas, harbor seals, Stellar sea lions, polar bears, and Pacific walrus.

Extremely high accumulation of chemical and heavy metal residues released into the environment by human activities such as agricultural run-off has caused increased disease in dolphins as well as all life.

Marine debris can be ingested or entangle marine life.

Click here to view “The Majestic Plastic Bag – A Mockumentary”
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