Dolphin Encounters in Florida

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Want to swim and interact with some dolphins in Florida? You’re in luck because there are a number of marine mammal parks, water parks and aquariums where you can do just that!

The following is a list of dolphin encounters in Florida:

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from purchases made through the links in this post.)

Aquatica Orlando:

Address: 5800 Water Play Way, Orlando, Florida

Website: aquatica.com/orlando

Established in 2008, Aquatica Orlando is a water park in Orlando that features water slides and pools as well as animal encounters.

The park features a dolphin encounter during which guests can swim with Commerson dolphins.

The encounter is a behind-the-scenes tour of the dolphin’s habitat which houses fish, dolphins and leopard sharks. A photographer is on hand during the encounter to provide one 8×6 printed photo of each visitor which is included in the encounter.

Aquatica Orlando is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium:

Address: 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL

Website: www.cmaquarium.org

Established in 1972, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is an aquarium in Clearwater that rescues and rehabilitates wild marine animals.

The aquarium offers five dolphin encounters: a VIP Rough-Toothed Dolphin Experience, a VIP Bottlenose Dolphin Experience, a Photo Moment with Rough-Toothed Dolphins, a Photo Moment with Bottlenose Dolphins and an Action Photo Moment with Bottlenose Dolphins.

In addition to the dolphin encounters, the aquarium also offers a Shark Care Experience and a Feed a Stingray Experience.

Joe Handy is the CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Dolphin Research Center:

Address: 58901 Overseas Highway, Grassy Key, FL

Website: dolphins.org

Established in 1984, the Dolphin Research Center is an education facility in the Florida Keys.

The facility offers nine types of dolphin encounters: a Dolphin Encounter, a Family Dolphin Splash, an Ultimate Trainer for a Day, a VIP Experience, a Researcher Experience, a Play with Dolphins Encounter, a Meet the Dolphins Encounter, an Exclusive Private Dolphin Encounter and a Paint with a Dolphin Encounter.

The Dolphin Research Center was founded by Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez and Armando Rodriguez.

Discovery Cove:

Address: 6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando, FL

Website: discoverycove.com/orlando

Established in 2000, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive family resort and theme park in Orlando.

The resort offers a tropical atmosphere to swim and relax as well as experience various animal encounters, such as otter encounters, feeding stingrays, swimming with sharks and dolphins, flamingo encounters, playing with marmosets and more.

The resort offers a Swim with Dolphins encounter during which guests get to meet and interact with a dolphin while they learn all about them from an animal care specialist.

In 2022, U.S. News Travel named Discovery Cove one of the 33 best water parks in the U.S.

Discovery Cove is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is owned and operated by Seaworld Parks & Entertainment.

Dolphin Connection:

Address: 61 Hawks Cay Blvd, Duck Key, FL

Website: www.dolphinconnection.com

Established in 1990, the Dolphin Connection is an educational program in Duck Key that features bottlenose dolphins.

The program offers seven types of dolphin encounters: Dockside Dolphins, Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Discovery, Royal Swim, Trainer for a Day, Royal Swim, Paint and Play with Private Dolphins Experience.

Dolphin Connection was founded by Doug and Cheryl Messinger.

Dolphin Discovery:

Address: Florida Keys, Panama City Beach, St. Augustine
Website: www.dolphindiscovery.com

Established in 1994, Dolphin Discovery is an interactive program that features dolphins and sea lions.

The program has three locations in Florida, Florida Keys, Panama City Beach and St. Augustine, and offers four dolphin encounters in each of those locations: Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Swim Adventure, Dolphin Royal Swim and Dolphin Meet and Greet.

Dolphin Discovery is owned by the Dolphin Company, which is the largest park operator in Latin America and has locations in eight countries.

Dolphins Plus:

Address: 101900 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL

Website: www.dolphinsplus.com

Established in 1980, Dolphins Plus is a dolphin research and interaction center in Key Largo.

The center offers several dolphin encounters: a Signature Swim, Shallow Water Dolphin Encounter, Shadow – Trainer for a Day, Meet a Dolphin, Painting with Dolphins Add on, and a Dolphin Dockside Encounter.

Epcot Seas Adventure:

Address: 200 Epcot Center Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Website: disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/dolphins-in-depth

The Epcot Seas Adventure is a dolphin encounter at the World Nature exhibit at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World Resort.

The Epcot Seas Adventure is a two-hour encounter with dolphins during which guests interact with the dolphins in waist deep water for 30 minutes, tour backstage areas while they learn about the dolphin care program and learn about training sessions with marine mammal specialists.

Gulf World Marine Park:

Address: 15412 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL

Website: gulfworldmarinepark.com

Established in 1970, Gulf World Marine Park is a dolphinarium in Panama City Beach that features dolphins, sea lions, penguins, harbor seals and more.

The park offers three dolphin encounters: a Bottlenose Dolphin Meet & Greet, Rough-Toothed Dolphin Meet & Greet, and a Trainer for a Day experience with a dolphin.

In addition, the park also offers other types of animal encounters, such as a Sea Lion Encounter, Penguin Encounter and a Stingray Encounter as well as dolphin shows.

In 2022, Gulf World Marine Park was ranked the number one place to swim with dolphins in Florida, according to Florida Vacationers website.

The Gulf World Marine Park is owned by Ron Hardy.

Miami Seaquarium:

Address: 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL

Website: miamiseaquarium.com

Established in 1955, the Miami Seaquarium is a 38-acre oceanarium in Key Biscayne that is home to dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, stingrays and penguins.

The Miami Seaquarium offers three types of dolphin experiences: a Dolphin Encounter, a Royal Swim and Dolphin Odyssey.

The seaquarium also offers other types of animal encounters, such as Seal Encounter, Penguin Encounter, Stingray Interaction, a Sea Trek Reef Encounter and dolphin shows.

Miami Seaquarium is accredited by Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums, IMATA’s Animal Trainer Development Program and by American Humane.

Miami Seaquarium is owned by the Dolphin Company.

If you would like to visit the Miami Seaquarium and want to save money on tickets, check out this article on Miami Seaquarium discount tickets.

Just a warning about Miami Seaquarium, in 2021, the USDA found several animal welfare violations at the facility and, in 2022, the USDA found that several dolphins at the facility were deliberately being underfed which caused aggressive behavior in the dolphins, such as attacking a trainer and biting visitors.

Marineland Dolphin Adventure:

Address: 9600 N Ocean Shore Blvd, St. Augustine, FL

Website: marineland.net

Established in 1938, Marineland is a marine mammal park in St. Augustine that features dolphins, sea turtles and stingrays.

The park offers six types of dolphin encounters: Royal Swim, Swim Adventure, Dolphin Encounter, Meet & Greet, Dolphin Designs and Trainer for a Day.

In addition to the dolphin encounters, the park also offers other types of animal encounters such as a tortoise encounter and an aquarist for a day experience.

Marineland is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is owned by Dolphin Discovery.

Seaworld Orlando:

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL

Website: seaworld.com/orlando

Established in 1973, SeaWorld Orlando is a theme park and marine zoological park in Orlando that features amusement park rides and animal experiences.

The park offers several dolphin encounters: Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Swim, Dolphins Up-Close Tour, Dolphin Cove and Dolphin Adventures.

In addition to the dolphin encounters, the park also offers other types of animal encounters such as a Sea Lion Encounter, Shark Encounter, Penguin Encounter, Walrus Encounter, Beluga Encounter, a Killer Whale Up-Close tour and dolphin shows.

Seaworld is accredited by Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

Theater of the Sea:

Address: 84721 Overseas Hwy (Mile Marker 84.5) Islamorada, FL

Website: theaterofthesea.com

Established in 1946, Theater of the Sea is a marine mammal park in Islmadora that is home to sharks, dolphins, alligators, sea turtles and stingrays.

The park offers several dolphin encounters: a Shallow Water Swim with Dolphins, Express Shallow Water Swim with Dolphin, Swim with the Dolphin, Express Dolphin Swim, Ultimate Swim with Dolphin, Meet the Dolphin; and Paint with the Dolphin.

In addition to the dolphin encounters, the park also offers other types of animal encounters, such as a sea lion encounter, a shark encounter, a stingray encounter, an alligator encounter and a sea turtle encounter.

Theater of the Sea is owned by P.F. McKenney, Jr.

Sources:
About Us.” Theater of the Sea, theaterofthesea.com/about-us
Our History.” Marineland, marineland.net/our-history
Cobb, Nathan. “Gulf World named No. 1 place to swim with dolphins in Florida; other PCB spot ranked No. 11.” Panama City News Herald, 14 July. 2022, newsherald.com/story/entertainment/2022/07/14/panama-city-beach-has-floridas-best-places-swim-dolphins/10036848002/
Aguirre, Louis. “Recent dolphin attack at Miami Seaquarium not an isolated incident, former veterinarian says.” Local10.com, local10.com/news/local/2022/04/12/recent-dolphin-attack-at-miami-seaquarium-not-an-isolated-incident-former-veterinarian-says/
Mapes, Lynda V. “Rotting fish, injuries, dirty water: Feds find care violations at Miami Seaquarium for captive orca Tokitae.” The Seattle Times, 16 Oct. 2016, seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/rotting-fish-injuries-dirty-water-feds-find-care-violations-at-miami-seaquarium-for-captive-orca-tokitae/
Garner, Glen. “Miami Seaquarium Dolphins Underfed, Underweight, and Aggressive After Diet Changes, USDA Finds.” People Magazine, 1 Nov. 2022, people.com/pets/miami-seaquarium-underfed-underweight-dolphins-usda-report/
Aguirre, Louis. “Dolphins at Miami Seaquarium became more aggressive after ‘abrupt’ diet cuts, federal inspectors find.” Local10.com, 21 Oct. 2022, local10.com/news/local/2022/10/21/usda-report-details-alleged-animal-abuse-involving-miami-seaquariums-dolphins/
About Us.” Dolphin Discovery, dolphindiscovery.com/company/about-us.asp
Our History.” Dolphin Research Center, dolphins.org/our_history
AZA Accredited and Certified Members.” Association of Zoos and Aquariums, aza.org/inst-status?locale=en

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