FACILITY QUESTIONS

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.
General admission to the park includes dolphin, sea lion, and parrot shows, fish and reptile tour, bottomless boat ride, and lagoon-side beach. 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 Papa’s grill, and visit our private lagoon-side beach to snorkel, sunbathe, or just relax.

Included in the price of admission, the lagoon-side 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, showers, and changing rooms are provided.

Snacks and drinks can be purchased.

The lagoon-side beach is typically open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weather permitting.

No, but you can bring your well behaved leashed dog into the park if you clean up after them.
The animals live in natural salt-water lagoons. The water is pumped in from the Atlantic Ocean.
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.
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.
No outside food or drinks are permitted in the park.
Click here for discounts and coupons.

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

Theater of the Sea is open 365 days a year.

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.
Yes we are.
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 purchase of general admission or animal interaction program.

ANIMAL INTERACTION PROGRAM QUESTIONS:

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)
  • Meet the Alligator (since 2017)
  • Adventure and Snorkel Cruise
  • Sunset Cruise
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. Reservations can be made online 24hrs a day or in person and by phone from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Please visit our Animal Interaction Program Policies page for information on requirements and restrictions.
Please visit our Animal Interaction Program Policies page for more information.

Program cost is refundable only if the program is cancelled at least 7 days prior to the date of scheduled participation.
To cancel or make changes contact info@theaterofthesea.com or call 305-664-2431.

Please visit our Animal Interaction Program Policies page for more information

Please visit our Animal Interaction Program Policies page for more information.
Please visit our Animal Interaction Program Policies page for more infromation.

You should be comfortable in the water.

The Meet the Dolphin, Meet the Sea Lion, Paint with the Dolphin, Paint with the Sea Lion, Meet the Alligator, 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.

No. Typically the trainers oversee the interaction from out of the water.
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.
In addition to general admission, observers can accompany animal interaction program participants to the interactive areas to observe programs.
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.
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.

DOLPHIN QUESTIONS:

A biology or psychology degree, participation in internship or volunteer programs, strong swimming skills, SCUBA certification, and public speaking experience are all necessary.
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.
  • 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.
No. Our animals receive their diet daily unless they don’t want it.
They have the option of participating in sessions and although very rare, they sometimes choose not to.
Depending on the trainer, the animal, and the behavior it can vary from one session to months.
It depends on the individual.
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.
Yes they do. 85% of dolphins in human care were born there.
Anything is possible, but this is most likely a myth.
No scientific data exists to suggest that dolphins can heal people. However, there are many human/animal interactions that have therapeutic benefits.
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.
Life span varies with the dolphins just as with humans or any animal. Their median life span at United States facilities is 29.2 years and we have had them live into their 50s. Their median life span in the wild is up to 17.4 years.
They certainly seem to be and I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t think so.
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 extremely rare that they choose not to interact or use the dolphin only area.
Some were born here, some were collected from the wild in the 60s & 70s, some were stranded, and some are from other facilities.
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.
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.
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, 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.

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

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.

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, overfishing, 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 overfishing, which deplete the food source for marine mammals and other marine life.

As a result of overfishing, 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.