Research & Animal Care

Animal Care

The animals at Sea Life Park receive the highest level of care, with constant attention and affection, and the best food, shelter and veterinary care, including on-site professionals and world-renowned experts who are on retainer to the Park. Our animals have access to the most nutritious diet possible, one far more appropriate than even that which would be found in the wild.

Sea Life Park is and has worked with professors, researchers and scientists from universities to be a part of research studies to better understand the biological impacts humans have on animals out in the wild.

Sea Life Park’s number one concern is for the health and well-being of each animal. Sea Life Park upholds the best standards of animal care. We are constantly striving to enhance our animal care program with the procurement of newer cutting edge diagnostic equipment, surgical and procedure suites, quarantine and recovery areas, and contracting veterinarians and physicians specializing in a wide-range of disciplines. The advancement of our tools also brings the invaluable staff development and training for future education as well.

Sea Life Park is a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA). The dolphins at Sea Life Park, have been raised under human care, and are well-accustomed to human interaction. Sea Life Park goes to great lengths to make sure that its dolphins receive the best care possible, and all dolphin experiences are carefully regulated. Sea Life Park continues to work with all state and federal agencies to uphold the highest level of animal care.

Celebrating a Natural Environment

Did You Know?

Our Organic Exhibits
The Park is built upon an intricate, specialized, flow-through water system. Developed in the 1960s, this wonderfully developed water system draws from the ocean through underground injection wells that you can see at the beaches across the street. These underground injection wells ensure the water is not influenced by any contaminants on the surface. The seawater from the ocean moves through the pools at the Park at a rate of 12-14 million gallons per day! The flow-through system creates a completely natural environment and habitat for all the animals at the park-you can even see the same types of algae and diatoms in the ocean if you look close enough! We test the water quality weekly to ensure the systems working properly and before it leaves the park, its enters one of 19 dispersion wells, thus, having no impact as it re-enters the ocean.

No chemicals, including algaecides, are added to the water because we know this can present a health risk to the animals and the environment. The Dolphin Lagoon show pool has a volume of 1.2 million gallons and the cleaning process for this pool, and every lagoon at the park, is 100% natural. No chemicals are used in the habitats at any point of this cleaning process. At least once a week, after the animals are in adjacent pools, each exhibit is drained and pressure washed using water and pressure!

As we continue to work with our governmental agencies and partners including the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA), we strive to create the most natural conditions and environments for the animals at the Park. You may notice algae in the exhibits-this beneficial growth is both natural and safe for the animals and you! Algae produces oxygen in the water and also minimizes reflective sunlight from the bottom of the exhibits. Our approach to providing a more naturalistic environment is to allow the algae to grow in the pools and over time, create a “biome.” Since our water condition is ideal, small organisms begin to colonize and live among the algae. Many of these small organisms graze on the algae thus serving as nature’s own “lawnmowers”. As you look into the exhibits, you will not only see that the water clarity is excellent, you can also see different types of algae growing on the surfaces. We have also added various types of aquaculture-raised marine life such as shrimp and fish from the Oceanic Institute.

Over the years as we study and observe our animals we have collectively worked with other institutions in determining the most ideal habitat design. The issue of eye health has become of great concern over the last 10 years and we have all striven to understand the nature of marine mammal eye disease. In an effort to provide optimal eye health, Sea Life Park has been proactive at addressing exhibit shading by investing hundreds of thousands of dollars installing appropriate shade structures in and around the animal habitats. The placement of shade structures provides the animals with free access to protection from the sun at any time of the day.

No Single-Use Straws!
For over 16 years, the Park has not carried single-use plastic lids or straws, as single-use plastics are the ocean environment’s largest and most hazardous types of debris in our waters. We believe it is our responsibility to educate others about this ongoing issue and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to our local community for their support in these conservation efforts. It is imperative we do our part to ensure our treasured marine life including honu can thrive in a nurturing environment by educating the community about these amazing creatures and how they can protect them. We are committed to leading by example and creating awareness about the impact of marine debris both inside the Park grounds and beyond. Our cups, plates and cutlery are all 100% renewable and compostable made from plants like sugarcane and corn!



Sea Life Park serves not only as a hub for education to its visitors, but also provides a uniquely suited environment for the academic community to explore the challenges confronting our marine ecosystems. A small sampling follows:
• Exposure to toxic metals decreases immune function and impairs growth and reproduction in wildlife. In a recent study looking at an increase in metal concentrations within wild green sea turtles, Sea Life Park’s honu breeding population served as a critically important baseline of a healthy turtle population with which to compare and contrast. This important investigation was conducted with support of Texas Tech University’s Department of Environmental Toxicology and NOAA’s Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center.
• Understanding what factors may aid in fish hook and net discrimination by marine mammals—for example, which kinds of hooks they may be able to see with higher fidelity—could be a key component in mitigating needless entanglements and deaths amongst pseudorcas, dolphins and more. Recent observations of the Park’s marine mammal ‘ohana are contributing to an understanding of the these amazing animals’ highly perceptive vision and echolocation capabilities. These insights may one day lead to innovations in fishing equipment, creating lines and hooks that remain effective on fish but that cetaceans can easily detect—and avoid—from far away.
• Sea Life Park’s Seabird Rehabilitation Center is committed to minimizing the number of injured native seabirds coming to the center. Among the Park’s many preventative efforts includes working closely with wind farms that are researching ways to put more efficient protections in place around turbines.
• Coral bleaching and invasive algae are critical concerns for our ocean ecosystems. In recent years, it is also believed a flourishing virus may be the culprit behind sea stars— and now sea urchins—wasting away. Scientists suspect that the ocean's warming or its increasing acidity may be factors that have contributed to weakened sea stars and urchins, making them more vulnerable to the virus. Sea Life Park’s uncontaminated tide pool environments have served as a baseline reference that has proven helpful for scientists exploring solutions.
• The ocean can be a noisy environment. Yet instead of wearing earplugs, imagine adjusting an internal dial to lower the volume. Researchers at the University of Hawai’i followed a hunch that some marine mammals could protect their hearing naturally, and new studies reveals certain species of whales and dolphins can indeed make such adjustments inside their ears. Understanding this phenomemnon could potentially allow the animals to shield themselves from the disorientation of military sonar, oil drilling and other hazards. A team from UH, recently collaborating with international academics, were able to gain even further insights—without the distortions of arbitrary noise—by observing the echolocation skills of cetaceans at the Park.

Responsible Viewing Through Guest Education

Sea Life Park is committed to educating our visitors, residents, and children of the complex challenges facing dolphins in the wild. Although experiencing dolphins and other marine life up close at Sea Life Park is safe and educational, encounters with wild animals can be harmful for both humans and the animals. Methods used for viewing such as boats, jet skis, and kayaks must be conducted in a manner that does not impact the dolphin's normal behavior. At times, this can be quite challenging and can have negative consequences on the animals. Sea Life Park promotes the responsible viewing of animals in the wild.

Some helpful guidelines for viewing wild whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association:

Remain at least 100 yards from humpback whales, and at least 50 yards from other marine mammals (dolphins, other whale species, and Hawaiian monk seals). Do not swim with wild spinner dolphins.
Observe turtles from a distance.
Bring binoculars along on viewing excursions to assure a good view from the recommended viewing distances.
Do not attempt to touch, ride, or feed turtles.
Limit your time observing an animal to 1/2 hour.
Marine mammals and sea turtles should not be encircled or trapped between boats or shore.
If approached by a marine mammal or turtle while on a boat, put the engine in neutral and allow the animal to pass.
Boat movement should be from the rear of the animal.
These guidelines do not replace Federal or state law. Pursuit and feeding of marine mammals is prohibited by Federal law.