In 1955, the Ford Thunderbird roared unto the streets for the very first time, the very first edition of The Guinness Book of World Records was published, and Gunsmoke – the classic American western – first aired on national TV. But it didn’t end there, 1955 brought South Florida its first marine-life attraction, Miami Seaquarium® which was the largest marine-life attraction in the world at the time of its opening.
And now over 50 years later, Miami Seaquarium® is the longest operating oceanarium in the US. The park has grown steadily over the past half century and today offers eight different marine animal shows and presentations each day and provides a fun-filled mix of exhibits, shows, attractions, food and shopping opportunities. Miami Seaquarium®, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year, is recognized as South Florida’s most popular ‘gated’ attraction. Miami Seaquarium® is a premier entertainment destination that is dedicated to education, wildlife conservation and community involvement.
On September 24th, 1955, after 14 years of planning and 14 months of construction, the $2.3 million, 38-acre Marine Park opened. In an elaborate dedication ceremony attended by Miami-Dade County Commissioners, members of the Miami and Miami-Beach City Commissions and other VIPs, the grand opening became official when County Commission Chairman T.D. MacVicar poured a symbolic seven-seas cocktail, a blend of waters of the seven seas of the world, into the dolphin habitat at the main building of the park.
The opening day ceremony was attended by thousands of spectators who waited in anticipation for the premiere of the South Florida’s first dolphin show. The show was presented in the park’s new 13 foot, 600,000 gallon main and starred a group of frolicking Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins that couldn’t wait to entertain their first guests.
Since that day in 1955, Miami Seaquarium® has attained many ‘firsts’ in the marine park industry. The park’s commitment to entertainment, education, wildlife conservation and community involvement has led to many milestones.
In the past 50+ years, many dolphins have been born in the park. In fact, all of the bottlenose dolphins that reside at Miami Seaquarium® were born at the park. It was just a year after the park opened, that a dolphin named Bebe was born in the park’s main pool to delight of park guests. Her birth was captured in pictures and featured in a two-page photo spread in Life Magazine in December of 1956. That was just beginning for Bebe’s 40-year history as a star. She went on to have two sons that reside at the park today and she became the featured performer of the Top Deck dolphin show in the park’s main pool. She excelled in athletic feats, including performing the show’s grand finale, a 23-foot high jump.