Introduction to Marineland
Behind the Scenes
As you make your way around the park, you may not realize all of the time and preparation that goes into keeping our animals happy and healthy. Every hour of every day, someone is here watching, maintaining and caring for the animals.
Every morning, well before the park opens, the staff arrives. A check of all animals is made and then it's time for breakfast. Can you imagine having over 700 hungry guests at your table? The animals await anxiously and when the feed wagon appears, there is a rush to be first in line. Each day, about 110 bales of hay and 454 kg (1,000 lbs) of grain such as corn, barley and oats, along with a vitamin supplement, are given to the deer, elk and bison.
Next comes the clean-up crew. All the pens are cleaned and disinfected if necessary. The crew must be very careful. Watch out for the bear behind you! Actually, some of the bears are quite friendly and one may even give a crew-member a good morning bear hug!
We are often asked if it is dangerous to enter the pen with these wild animals and the answer is yes. It is, however, an inevitable part of the job and this is where experience is very important. The staff is well aware of each animal's personality, likes and dislikes. Even though a few of the animals are quite tame, caution is always used.
Located on the grounds is our Animal Care Facility. This building contains the necessary equipment to handle medical problems and care for sick or injured animals. During the winter, this facility also houses the animals that are unable to withstand the colder temperatures.
Now that you know of some of the work going on with our land animals, let's cool off with a swim with our dolphins. As you watch the dolphins racing, jumping and playing, take a moment to observe the current in the pool. That current is there because of the large filtration system that helps keep the water clean and germ-free.
Here at Marineland, we use ozone to maintain a high level of water quality for our marine mammals - without the high residual chlorine levels that were required in the past. The advantage of ozone disinfection as compared to chlorine disinfection is multiple.
Ozone is a colourless gas that is formed by passing oxygen through an electric field. The rate and efficiency of ozone production is affected by many variables such as air flow, percent of oxygen in gas feed, dew point of gas feed, air pressure, cooling water temperature, voltage and frequency applied to electrodes.
Ozone is a more effective disinfectant than chlorine and removes viruses and lowers the colour and turbidity. Ozone also removes suspended solids. Unlike chlorine, ozone does not change the pH of the water, nor does it react with the remaining organics in the water to form carcinogenic trihalomethane.
If you were to enter the water, one thing would become quite obvious to you. You would float much easier in this pool than you did in the lake this summer. These tanks are filled with salt water, about 3% salt water to be exact! Whales and dolphins need salt water because it is denser than fresh water; therefore, it is easier for them to float and swim. The salt water is made right here at Marineland, simply by adding common table salt to fresh water.
Once you entered the water, you would undoubtedly notice that you are being watched! That's right, dolphins are very inquisitive and usually very playful and friendly with humans. However, there are some that can play too rough or even try to bite or ram intruders. Under water, you would hear the chatter and whistle-like sounds of the dolphins. Also, you might hear and possibly feel the echolocation clicks as they explore you with their extra sense.
While you were under water, you might also hear the barking sound of the sea lions. That's right, they bark under water too! The sea lions also spend much of their time on the deck of the pool. They seem to enjoy a quick nap between shows.
You will notice that our marine mammals may receive a reward of fish for a successfully completed behaviour. You are probably wondering where we obtain all this fish. For the most part, two varieties of fish are fed to the marine mammals. They are herring and capelin. To ensure quality, these fish are caught in the ocean and then quick-frozen, boxed, and shipped to Marineland by the truckload. Upon arrival, it is placed in large freezers for storage. Every day, early in the morning, over 909 kg (2000 lbs) of fish is thawed for the day's feed. Besides the fish, the only other food given to the animals is their daily vitamins. And how do you get the animals to take their vitamins? Simple, you put the vitamins into the fish and then feed the fish to the marine mammals!
Now that we have taken a quick look behind the scenes and answered some questions, let's take a closer look at the array of animals you will see!