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LAistory: In Southern California, Killer Whales Can Fly...or not

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Photo by Gary B. Edstrom via Wikipedia
LAistory is our new series that will take us on a journey to what came before to help us understand where we are today. We began with Val Verde, the "Black Palm Springs", then journeyed to Thelma Todd's Roadside Cafe, then to a house in Beverly Hills and then to Echo Park's Bonnie Brae House. Now we're off to Palos Verdes to a water park closed for twenty-one years and the strange wonder that closing made necessary...

UPDATE: Reader Whinemaker has disabused me of the urban legend of flying whales. He even quoted a NY Times article: "Orky and Corky were trucked to Sea World without warning one night, ostensibly for breeding." I guess sometimes the urban legend is stronger than the need to run it through the NYTimes archives! It lead me to wonder, where would such a story come from? The ending of Marineland was so awful and heartless and corporate -- companies taking wonder from the world, destroying our childhoods. Maybe we just wanted a fairytale to comfort us as we looked out on a whale-less night.

The Park

Once upon a time, some people really liked creatures from the sea. The people decided that these creatures lived too far away and that it would be nicer if they lived nearby, where they could all visit each other whenever they wanted. These people decided built Marineland of the Pacific on a cliff overlooking the sea in Palos Verdes, CA. It was a picturesque location, whose cove-ridden coastline once gave shelter to Spanish and Portuguese sailing ships -- pirates and whalers mostly.

When Marineland opened its doors in 1954. At that time, it was the largest Oceanarium in the world. Its exhibits housed animals from all over the world, changing on a semi-weekly basis. Everything from dolphins to walruses to sea otters had homes there. It pioneered a swim through aquarium called the Baja Reef.