Gulfarium expanding dolphin exhibit with new stadium and encounter pool

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OKALOOSA ISLAND, Fla. (WKRG) — A staple since the 1950s will be getting an upgrade. The Gulfarium is adding a brand new stadium and encounter exhibit for dolphins.

“The dolphin exhibit project is going to be three primary habitats which are pools,” said Elliot Kampert with Gulfarium’s growth management.

County commissioners approved the expansion that will include a new dolphin show stadium, dolphin encounter pool and dolphin viewing area.

“The existing dolphin encounter pool will be demolished during construction. But because we are basically swapping one encounter for another, there is sort of zero net gain on traffic impacts and things like that,” Kampert said.

The Gulfarium is set to expand the complex in the northwest portion of the property bringing the full facility to more than 31,000 square feet. 

County commissioners made a guarantee in the proposal that all of the white island sand moved during the construction will return to the property.

There are no plans to stop dolphin shows in the meantime. The current show stadium will be transformed into a new attraction when the project is over.

“I think we are all pretty familiar with the Gulfarium, it does contribute to the community in other ways, inducing some conservation and philanthropic type uses as well as education,” said Kampert.

“I’m pretty sure that my kids know or care nothing about what I do in this job, but when they find out I helped save the dolphin they will actually think this is a cool job, so,” said Nathan Boyles, District 3 commissioner.

With board approval, construction can start soon. One pool is already set for demolition. The Gulfarium will have more information in the coming weeks as the expansion moves forward. 

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