AQUATARIUM: "The World's Greatest Marine Show!"
by Greg May
If you were a dolphin lover like me, growing up in Florida in the 60's was a lot of fun especially if you had parents like Sam and Ruth May.
Once a year, my parents would drive me and my big brother, Wes up to Marineland so I "could get it out of my system." But Marineland wasn't the only marine attraction I got to visit as a kid.
One Saturday we made the drive over to St. Pete Beach to see the AQUATARIUM.
This oceanarium promoted itself throughout the 60's and early 70's as "The World's Greatest Marine Show" or "World's Largest Marine Attraction."
This was quite a boast considering the fact that it occupied only 17 acres with one third of that set aside for parking lot.
The AQUATARIUM consisted of a colossal circular building that encompassed the world's largest circular marine tank. Here's what happened: you bought your ticket, walked through the turnstiles and as you approached the viewing windows of that tank a wave of disappointment came over you for the water clarity was almost non-existent due to poor filtration.
Nevertheless, AQUATARIUM offered a fairly decent show by 60's standards. They had a dolphin named "Floppy" that made a 25-ft. high jump. She was billed as the world-champion high-jumping dolphin.
Years later, while I was working for Sea World, I would drive over to St. Pete to visit my good friend, Mike Brown. Mike was a trainer at AQUATARIUM.
I'll never forget the day he was in the cherry-picker trying to get Floppy to make her jump when a waterspout came off the Gulf and gave everyone a good scare.
I was deeply saddened when I learned Mike died in a tragic accident while cave diving in the Bahamas.