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Something's out there, dolphins at marine park know

Associated Press
Published September 15, 2004

PANAMA CITY BEACH - When Indie, Presley and Brinnon start staying underwater longer, there must be a storm coming.

At Gulf World Marine Park along this stretch of vacation beachfront, employees worked Tuesday to prepare for approaching Hurricane Ivan, which could bring heavy winds here as early as Thursday.

Presley and his buddies - bottlenose dolphins - spent the day swimming, jumping and eating fish.

While the park was closed to the public, for the dolphins, seals, loggerhead turtles, stingrays, nurse sharks, penguins, parrots and iguanas, it was like most other days.

But Ron Hardy, the owner of the private educational marine park, said that despite park workers' attempts to keep a regular routine, the dolphins know something is different.

"The lower the pressure drops, they tend to stay underwater more," Hardy said. "If the pressure gets low enough, they go and hang out down at the bottom."

Employees will remain at the facility through Hurricane Ivan, watching over the animals. The only real danger, Hardy said, would be if something flew into one of the attraction's pools and hit a dolphin or a seal.

Workers spent Tuesday securing items to prevent that from happening.

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