Research Department

Site Updates!

Terms of Use


Current Property Development

Owned and operated by Marineland of the Pacific Historical Society, LLC

Welcome to the Marineland of the Pacific Historical Society!   We're glad that you're here, and want to thank you for your interest in the world's largest oceanarium of its time.  Although Marineland of the Pacific no longer exists as a physical oceanarium, its history and ongoing contributions to marine science and the oceanarium industry in general, has afforded it a key position in the continuing development of public aquariums, oceanariums and marine themeparks throughout the world.  

MOTPHS, the Marineland of the Pacific Historical Society, was established in 2003 to manage and care for the institution's history and cultural impact to marine science as presented to the general public.  It's overall mission is to provide information and access to historical information and images of the park to students, researchers, industry professionals, and interested parties.  Marineland of the Pacific was the true pioneer of the oceanarium industry, and the society believes that providing this history to the public will continue to develop a better understanding and appreciation for the industry today. 

In August, 1954, Marineland of the Pacific opened its doors to the public for the first time.  Located at the tip of the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County, California, it was the largest oceanarium in the world.   Five million dollars were invested in the project to make it the most unusual cultural, educational and entertainment center on the Pacific Coast. 

Selection of the 90-acre site was influenced by the great natural beauty of the Portuguese Bend area on Palos Verdes Peninsula and its adjacency to the Pacific Ocean, where most of the undersea life was displayed in the huge tanks.  The land has an intriguing background historically.  The estate once was a part of a Spanish land grant which was called Rancho San Pedro and which was awarded to Juan Jose Dominguez in 1784 by the Spanish Governor Don Pedro Fages.  Prior to that, Portuguese, Spanish and occasional British adventurers often anchored in its sheltered coves. 

Colorful pages out of history tell of whalers who used its beaches for reducing the oil from whales captured in the vicinity as the huge mammals migrated annually to what is now San Diego Harbor and to the lagoons on the coast of Baja California to bear their young.  The waters off Marineland, now known as Catalina Channel, also saw frigates flying the skull and crossbones, and smugglers of animal hides doing a thriving business in the coves and caves of the peninsula.  One of the larger smugglers' caves can still be seen in the cliffs near the former Marineland pier just south of the property. 

The fabulous display of marine life at Marineland of the Pacific was ever-changing.  Visitors found a new show each time they came.  From day to day and week to week, new specimens of deep sea fish and animals were added.  The whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions were enriched with new displays of ability, and strange sea creatures from far-away oceans were displayed in exhibits reflecting their natural environments.  A master plan called for the construction of more display pools, fish exhibits, gardens, shops and other interesting developmments in the ongoing years ahead. 

The historical society wishes you well as you explore this website, and thanks you for your patience as the site continues to grow.   

Periera & Luckman
Artist's Rendering, Periera & Luckman, 1952

The Marineland of the Pacific Historical Society (MOTPHS) is dedicated to preserving the historical significance associated with the development, operation, promotion and education of the former California oceanarium.   Marineland of the Pacific is an important part of California's history, and we are eager to talk with those that were connected with this institution.  Please leave a message in our guest book, and our staff will get back with you as soon as possible.  Thank you for your interest in Marineland of the Pacific, and for helping to preserve this part of California's history. 

Sign Guestbook
View Guestbook