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Dolphin Discovery Buying Marineland Attraction Would Yield $128,000 In New Flagler Tax Revenue

| May 23, 2019

Marineland Dolphin Adventure took the attraction through various makrovers before its latest sale back to a for-profit, dolphin-centered company. (© FlaglerLive)

Marineland Dolphin Adventure took the attraction through various makeovers before its latest pending sale back to a for-profit, dolphin-centered company. (© FlaglerLive)

Dolphin Discovery, a privately held, for profit company known for its swim-with-dolphins programs at nearly two dozen venues in the Caribbean, south Florida, Jamaica and Mexico, is buying Marineland Dolphin Adventure, according to Amy Lukasik, acting director of the county’s tourism division.

Gary Inks, former general manager of the attraction, informed Lukasik of the pending sale in an email announcing his resignation from the Tourist Development Council, the county’s advisory board for the tourism bureau.

“They will have their own General Manager in place by May 1, 2019,” Inks wrote in late April. Lukasik has been the acting director of the county’s tourism division since the suspension of Director Matt Dun, who is under investigation.

The sale has not yet been recorded through county property tax records. It would be the second time in eight years that the tourist attraction changes hands. Atlanta Aquarium in 2011 paid developer Jim Jacoby $5.7 million for what was then known as the Dolphin Conservation Center (when the attraction was drawing about 70,000 people a year), 10 years after Jacoby himself had bought the property for $1.9 million from Marineland Foundation Inc.

The sale would have wide-reaching consequences beyond tourism. Since the Georgia Aquarium is a non-profit, the Marineland Dolphin Adventure property has been off the tax rolls, its entire assessed value of $5 million exempt from county, Marineland and other property taxes. That exemption would appear to be on its way out. The property’s acquisition by a for-profit company would result in an infusion of property tax revenue for the city of Marineland, the county, the school board and a few smaller entities, of a combined $128,000 a year at 2018 assessments.

For Marineland alone, it would mean tax revenue of $50,000. Marineland has the highest property tax in the county, at $10 per $1,000 of taxable value. It has one property taxpayer: Jacoby, who still owns significant acreage around town. County government’s share would be $41,000. The school board would reap most of the rest.

Dolphin Discovery officials have been elusive, however, so far not returning calls or contacts from reporters or even from Lukasik. “I’ve reached out to them, they haven’t returned my emails so I’m not taking it personally right now, it’s probably because the sale is not final,” Lukasik said. The tourism council has a designated seat for a tourism representative from Marineland. The seat is ready for the next general manager of the attraction, if he or she is willing (and if that person is a resident of Flagler County).

“I’m just interested to hear what sort of changes they have in mind, programs, hopefully some new animals,” Lukasik said. “When I did my looking around it looks like they have a lot more diverse animals. Hopefully we’ll see some of those and more reasons to visit Marineland. And what they do, it’s nothing new to them, they’re not starting from scratch.” Dolphin Discovery is a 24-year-old company.

Last year six Dolphin Discovery facilities in the Mexican Caribbean earned certification through the global American Humane Conservation program for the welfare and humane treatment of the animals under their care. The facilities passed third-party audits to earn the Humane Certified seal of approval. A company release said Dolphin Discovery joined “an elite group of less than four dozen institutions worldwide to achieve certification under the American Humane Conservation program.”

Exactly a year ago, in its latest push for visibility and relevance in an increasingly crowded tourism-attraction landscape (the original Marineland attraction predates Disney by decades), Marineland Dolphin Adventure re-dedicated its iconic arches, once the landmark of many a child’s memories, offered discounts to local residents and hosted a series of special events, concerts and movies.

A Dolphin Discovery Video:

17 Responses for “Dolphin Discovery Buying Marineland Attraction Would Yield $128,000 In New Flagler Tax Revenue”

  1. Keep Flagler Beautiful says:

    It’s sickening that keeping dolphins in captivity and forcing them to work is considered an acceptable way to attract tourists to Flagler County. I don’t care who owns that place, it’s not right to enslave animals who should be in their natural habitats. Lukasik is hoping for some “new animals”? She speaks as though they are commodities to be bought and sold. Get with the times! It’s an outdated concept, no matter how many certificates are issued to say it’s “humane.”

  2. Nick says:

    Hope the next go-round the dolphins put us in a tank and charge admission…. will be good for dolphin tax revenue

  3. Regulator says:

    Lighten up. This is the closet many people will get to seeing these animals up close. You sound like the type of person who will not be happy unless everything goes your way.

  4. KJ says:

    I agree with Keep Flagler Beautiful. Dolphins and other animals should be enjoyed in their native setting and the idea of capturing or breeding animals for human entertainment is wrong and indeed long outdated. I believe most people are simply uneducated to the reality of these unnatural exhibits and knew the adverse impacts this ritual has on the animal the vast majority would not support such a sad experience. Parents, please teach your children that animals deserve the right to live in their own environment and not be held captive for the short term amusement of humans. Instead of patronizing these establishments, take an eco-tour on the Matanzas and see wildlife in their natural setting.
    Make a donation to your local land trust or The Nature Conservancy or World Wildlife Fund and protect the natural world for wildlife.

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    That 128K will be wasted by our county leadership somehow. I can see them already figuring out how to spend it..

  6. I Can See It says:

    Great for the local tax rolls, great for tourism, can’t wait to take the kids for a visit!

  7. Keep Flagler Beautiful says:

    Regulator: You go live in a space for the rest of your life that’s the equivalent of the size of a bathtub, then we’ll talk about who needs to “lighten up.”

  8. Nick says:

    Regulator- I wanted to say some smartass shit to you about the type of person YOU sound like but instead just want to ask you two questions—

    How would you feel if YOU had to live in a cage?
    Do you think dolphins are capable of understanding that they are in a cage and not the wild?

    I understand you probably think animals are here for our enjoyment and they don’t really matter, but why do you think that and have you ever stopped to examine it?

    Some dolphins migrate thousands of miles a year and have complex, changing, long term social relationships. It is not exaggeration to say that living in a tank is a lot like dolphin jail.

    It breaks my heart that on so many of the stories on this website people in the comments display a total lack of empathy. Whether it’s homeless people, minorities, women or drug addicts the attitude is that ‘I’ve got mine and f* them.’ We are all tied together and when you hold hate against other people or creatures it only poisons your own self.

    Call me a stupid hippy and get on with your day

  9. David Redman says:

    Releasing the dolphins (porpoises) is a sure way for them to die.

  10. Bitch some more says:

    Just amazes me that people always find something to complain about good or bad …if you don’t like it don’t go easy as that but let the people and children who do enjoy to be educated by having these amazing animals up close and personal the option to ..these animals are treated better than most house pets

  11. Citizen says:

    Apparently some of these people making comments dont like zoo’s! This facility has rescued so many animals that would have died. The dolphins are born and raised in captivity and would die if released. The research they do have a tremendous impact on the future the dolphin population. I dont work there, but i have been there. I encourage people to go and learn more about what they do.

  12. Dave says:

    Keeping these animals in captivity is barbaric at the least, if you would like to enjoy these animals go to the intracoastal coastal, you will see them jumping and playing, why do us humans always feel the need to touch nature and try to control everything.

  13. Agkistrodon says:

    Having Spent many years at Woods Hole, there are times when animals are injured, and need to be rehabilitated. Most times these animals can be released into the wild. Other times they cannot. That is the exact time and reason for places like this. Also promotes research, that we might not otherwise be able to achieve. If Not for places such as these, perhaps some of those people so ardently against them could rehabilitate these animals in their bath tubs…………….But you better gain some education in Marine Sciences/Oceanography First.

  14. Nick says:

    Guess I shouldn’t be surprised you guys didn’t read the article…. Dolphin Discovery is a for profit business and half of their dolphins were bred in captivity. I’m all for a bit of rehab/research.

  15. Willy Boy says:

    Free the animals, and return everyone to their native land.

  16. Doug says:

    Regulator says:
    May 23, 2019 at 4:47 pm
    Lighten up. This is the closet many people will get to seeing these animals up close. You sound like the type of person who will not be happy unless everything goes your way.


    As I always have said, if you don’t like it, don’t go.

  17. Mary Fusco says:

    Marineland is boring and very expensive. The whole exhibit can be seen in ten minutes unless, of course, you are forking over hundreds of dollars to swim with a dolphin. Nothing left to do but hit the overpriced gift shop or eat. I’ve taken my grandchildren several times.

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