When the Atlantis Marine Park first opened in Yanchep, Western Australia, just north of Perth, in 1981, it gave the public an opportunity to interface with dolphins, seals, sea lions, penguins, and pelicans—and enjoy a little poolside fun in the sun. But as regulations regarding the keeping of dolphins changed and the park faced financial woes, the owners decided to close it in 1990. Since then, the park has become overgrown and attracted graffiti, but it's most memorable feature, a giant statue of King Neptune, still looks out over the park.
In anticipation of the park's opening, seven bottlenose dolphins were caught and trained as performance animals for the part, and by 1990, the park had three captive-born juveniles. In the late 1980s, however, the changing rules about holding marine mammals changed, meaning that if the park owners wanted to keep their dolphins, they would have to construct a larger dolphin enclosure. Ultimately, the owners decided to close the park instead, and the dolphins were rehabilitated and released into the wild. When three of them failed to thrive after the initial release attempt, they were relocated to another marine park.
As for the park, it remains in limbo. It's currently owned by property developers the Fini Group, which has put forth plans to develop the area into a residential and commercial space. King Neptune, however, would be preserved. Meanwhile, Swan Valley, a region east of Perth, has been identified as a possible site for a proposed $2 billion amusement park, which would include hotels, restaurants, rides, a day spa, a safari park, and, yes, a water park.
If you'd like to see what the Atlantis Marine Park looked like when it was fully operational, peruse this set of photos by Angela Hannah Lielle Mersey on Flickr, and you can read more about the park in this series of posts from Leonardo Escobar.
Top photo by Tor Lindstrand.
Photo by Tor Lindstrand.