Kenneth Norris, a pioneer marine mammal researcher and major player in the development of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, is first approached about creating an exhibit at the Sea Life Park to feature the spinner dolphin. Spinner dolphins were kept in captivity at the Sea Life Park until the summer of 1983. Norris later wrote in Dolphin Days that the captive dolphins at the Sea LifePark “had taught us a great deal” (285). Norris’ support wasn’t just for research on captive animals either. He indicated,
Without these dolphins to watch and wonder about, few of us, I fear, would care… Of course these days there is much discussion about whether we should keep dolphins at all. In this debate, their contribution to our understanding is seldom considered seriously. This leads to a paradoxical situation. The more we learn from captive dolphins, the more people care about them (286).
Encounters with cetaceans in captivity eventually led to demand for an even more natural experience – viewing them in the wild and in some cases swimming with these animals in the wild (like the programs on the Island of Hawaii, and elsewhere).
Norris, K. (1991). Dolphin Days, WW Norton and Co., New York, New York. 335pp.