The iconic metal roof looked like waves undulating over Marine Life Oceanarium on the Gulf, where eight dolphins, 18 sea lions and a seal were left to fend for themselves during Hurricane Katrina.
The miraculous ocean rescue of all eight dolphins and the recapture of 12 sea lions on land overshadowed in media accounts the story of why these animals rode out Katrina on waterfront property 4 feet above sea level, and the conflict that ensued after Katrina left the popular tourist attraction in ruins.
“The facts speak for themselves,” said David Lion, who became Marine Life president and CEO after the hurricane. “Dolphins are amazing, amazing animals, with their sonar and their ability to swim, their athleticism. It is amazing. But you certainly would not want to intentionally leave any animal or human facing that type of danger.”
When Katrina’s waves retreated and its winds died that Monday afternoon, five Marine Life employees made their way to the park.
What he saw astonished Jeffrey Siegel, the park’s director of operations and a man whose relationship with dolphins was cemented in childhood.