1962 Seaquarium, Miami, FL
week’s molded souvenir, the CAROLINA SNOWBALL from Seaquarium has, by far, the most fascinating, and historical story
behind its origins than any other figure in the entire MOLDVILLE archive. Several books have been written about the capture
of the only albino dolphin ever in captivity; a movie called The
Prince of Tides includes the story of the white dolphine (albeit with a different ending); and even an episode of the TV Series Flipper was based loosely on CAROLINA SNOWBALL and includes actual footage of her capture (and thus this week's video clip.) Now, 50 years later, few who drop a quarter in an
operating Mold-A-Rama machine to get this dolphin figure know the story of CAROLINA SNOWBALL.
Carolina is the only state that bans capturing marine mammals such as dolphins
and whales and putting them on public display.
The one responsible for that legacy? An albino dolphin named CAROLINA SNOWBALL! The story of CAROLINA SNOWBALL shows not how a single person can affect change - but rather how a single animal can inspire people to think differently about an ocean
that’s largely unseen.
Being a figure in honor of an albino dolphin, this week's mold was run, symbolically, with no pigment.
1964 SEAQUARIUM, Miami, FL
There is clearly something special about these mold machines, as we all know, especially when a person keeps the toy with them throughout their life, then knows exactly where it is when a person like myself asks for a photo of it 50 years later! This vintage CAROLINA SNOWBALL mold is certified
to have been from the machine shown above 50 years ago! The memories of
the MOLD-A-RAMA machine in the early 1960s is fresh in the mind of Mike Tobey, of North Palm Beach, FL, as he remembers the machine being right in front as you walked in
the main building, just like shown above - for 25c of course! He says
the thrill was watching the machinery start moving, the smell of
the melting wax, and then phsshh - out popped a mold of SNOWBALL! (Or
Flipper in the other machine) and then you always had to wait a while for
it to cool down. Great memories for Mike, and for us at MOLDVILLE
where they are relived every week in the garage!
Mike remembers spending the most time at the Seaquarium around 1963, when he was 6 or 7 yrs old. He says that "Flipper was great, but Snowball was my favorite. She was beautiful and unique and highly intelligent. I remember they used to say that she was the 'real star' of the show."
The Seaquarium collecting boat used by Captain Gray to capture Snowball in Colleton County, SC.
around 13 years or so an albino female bottlenose dolphin had been seen roaming
the waters of Beaufort County, South Carolina.
She became known by the local people as SNOWBALL because she was pure
white when she broke the surface of the water, and was somewhat of a local
celebrity. It was this celebrity,
however, that would lead to her destiny.
Bill Gray, known as THE pioneer in capturing sea life, even himself having
discovered 63 new species of fish, tells the story of the capture of the white
dolphin in his book Friendly Porpoises:
A couple years after the
Miami Seaquarium had opened in 1955 and developed the world's foremost performing
dolphin attraction, a young man came in to see me.
"Would you be
interested in a white dolphin?" he asked.
looking him over critically and deciding he might know what he was talking
about, I said, "Yes, have you got one?"
"No," said he,
"but I know where there is one."
I thought it quite
possible because I had actually seen one several years before that was pure
white from its dorsal fin back to its tail.
This was one of a large herd of normal dark grey-colored Tursiops truncati
cruising off shore in the clear blue waters on the northeast side of the
Bahamas. That was before dolphins came
into vogue as leading attractions in aquariums.
However, I have thought many times since of what a wonderful specimen it
would be to exhibit. Anyway, I never saw
it or any like it since.
Now this man insisted
that he knew where there was a dolphin as "white as snow." My blood tingled a little as I questioned him
and decided he was telling the truth.
told me that his family operated a fleet of shrimp trawlers near Beaufort,
South Carolina, and it was not unusual for this white dolphin, along with
others, to come in by the shrimp boats tied up at the dock where they sorted
the catch and threw the unwanted fish overboard. Here the dolphins got a free and easy meal
and were often only a few feet from the boats.
They were never molested and so had become quite tame. This all sounded very plausible, but since
the Seaquarium is some five hundred miles away from Beaufort, it seemed too far
to go on a wild-goose chase. I agreed
that if he would have someone take a photo of the dolphin and send it to me I
would bring our boats, crew, and dolphin nets and try to capture it. Also, if successful, we would pay him well
for it. This all seemed to his
satisfaction. He would write me and send
the photo as soon as he returned home.
After weeks turned into months with no response to my follow-up letter,
I gave up home and eventually forgot about it.
four years later, in 1961, my top assistant, Captain Emil Hanson, took a
vacation trip along the eastern seaboard.
We had obtained a new large-specimen collecting boat and were about to
install some modern trawling machinery.
Therefore, Emil, stopped at this important shrimp fisheries center near
Frogmore, South Carolina, to gather information on the most practical
shrimp-trawling gear. During his inspection
of the various boats, he met a captain who mentioned the fact there was a white
dolphin frequently seen in these local waters.
Emil was much interested so Captain Sonny Gay then invited Emil to go
out the next day and see for himself.
they arrived well out into St. Helena Sound, where several shrimpers were
dragging their trawls, Captain Sonny spotted the white dolphin among many grey
ones following the boats and picking up the unwanted fish which were shoveled
overboard. When Sonny started the
operation of picking up the trawl, the pack of dolphins knew it and immediately
raced to the wake of the boat for the usual feast. The white one stood out from the others by
contrast and often came within a few yards of the boat.
"There is no question,"
said Emil, "it is very definitely white." They saw it many times during the day. Captain Sonny told Emil that he had stopped
in at the Miami Seaquarium three or four years previous and talked to a Captain
Gray who was quite interested in securing it.
However, he explained that, after talking to me, he noted the animal had
changed its habit of coming up in the creek to the docks and stayed mostly out
in the deep open sound. For this reason
he had given up the idea of capturing it.
This explained why I had heard no more from him.
was thrilled and immediately began to consider how it could be captured. He spent a couple days more studying the
situation and gathering all pertinent information as to the kind of gear and
equipment that would be necessary if we decided to go after it.
Emil returned home we discussed the possibility of capturing this
creature. Now, catching dolphins in
Florida waters was no problem for us. We
also had nets and gear suitable for our south Florida waters. However, it was not at all practical for
dolphin catching in St. Helena Sound.
The area of St. Helena
Sound was made up of deep finger channels, twenty-five to forty-feet deep,
running out to sea. Through these
channels, where most of the trawling was conducted and the dolphins spent the
greater part of their time, the current ran at five to six miles per hour. This condition made it impossible to use our
eighteen-foot-deep dolphin net, which is practical for our normal use about our
home area. In fact a net of any kind
excepting a trawl would be most impractical under such conditions. Needless to say we decided to try it. Nothing could be more exciting and gratifying
than to catch a real white dolphin.
considerable preparations for this venture, in November, 1961, we cleared out
the inlet at Miami and headed north.
High winds and rough sea made it desirable to use the Inland Waterway
after the first day out. We made the
five-hundred-mile run in a week's time and arrived, filled with anticipation,
in St. Helena Sound on a quiet and beautiful day.
object of our mission was sighted well out in the sound and we followed her
about all afternoon. Once she ventured
into water shallow enough to warrant trying our net, but we did not do so
because we were expecting a motion-picture camera crew to arrive by car the
next day to film the entire operation and capture. After feasting our eyes on this beautiful
white creature for hours, we headed in to the shrimp dock at Village Creek to
await the arrival of our photographers.
next day we cruised out into the sound with six pairs of eyes scanning the
waters in search of Snowball and we located her about noon. Our excited photographers fell all over
themselves in their efforts to snap photos.
The water was smooth and we had no trouble following this gleaming
mammal and they snapped some close-ups.
We had seen a lot of Snowball by now and from observation had discovered
she was a female. Our conclusion was
based on the fact that there was a half-grown baby close to her side each time
she rose for air. This proved to be more
exciting as we hoped to capture both her and her off-spring. What a fabulous exhibit that would be if we
could deliver them to the Seaquarium together!
During the next two weeks
we were out at first daylight searching for Snowball, and if we found her,
followed patiently, hoping she might stray into an area where we would have a
chance of capture by running out net around her. We tried to establish the pattern of her
cruising habits, but there were none.
She would sometimes separate from the herd, and with her baby take off
for a mile or two and then change direction completely.
Helena Sound is comprised of some one hundred square miles of water which is
fed by dozens of large rivers, and she did not restrict herself to any
particular areas. We located her
sometimes many miles up in one of the inland tributaries, other times well out
at the edge of the ocean. We even
searched six days without finding her at all.
During the two weeks we had made five attempts to get our net around
her. The best chance we had seemed like
a sure thing. She, with her baby and
half dozen other grey dolphins, had pursued a school of fish over a shallow
sandbar where the water was only twelve feet deep. We jockeyed into position to make the
"strike," and the out-board motorboat carrying the end of the net
failed to start at the right time. The
success of this part of the operation is based on precision timing, so we
missed our chance. By the time we were
organized to try again, our quarry had vanished. A few days later she and her pack of
half-dozen were found in a suitable location at slack tide where there was only
ten feet of water.
time all went as planned and we closed the quarter-mile net and had Snowball,
baby, and five large, grey dolphins in the circle. As we pulled the net in, they discovered they
were trapped and herded close together in the middle of the circle. We were desperately closing in the net from
two net-boats, feeling that luck was with us at last. One of the men helping in my boat even asked
what tank I would put her in at the Seaquarium.
As the net was gradually being closed the whole lot went into a panic
and charged head on into the webbing. Only
fifty feet from me, Emil with two other crew members was in the other boat
hauling in the net. Two very large bulls
struck only six feet from my hands near the cork line on which I was pulling. They escaped and Snowball went through
also. This time I was close enough to
notice her pink eyes, but that was small consolation. After an hour or more of back-breaking
hauling we got our net back on board. We
had three ordinary dolphins in the net which we released. One my have been the baby.
a few more discouraging attempts, we were convinced our only hope of capturing
Snowball was to return home and build a special net, designed for these
waters. After twenty-two days on the
first hunt we tied up our boat and returned to Miami by auto. We immediately ordered the webbing, ropes,
corks, and leads we required. However,
this being the week before the Christmas season, our material was misplaced on
a moor truck line between Baltimore and Miami, resulting in a two-week
delay. After building the net, which
took eight days, we loaded it on our large truck and returned to our boat and
equipment at Village Creek. By this time
the shrimping season was drawing to a close and the winter weather had set in. We were not too discouraged by this, however.
We donned winter clothing and with our
new net on board started out.
found the change of weather hampered our chances considerably. The high winds, not experienced during our
former efforts, kept the sound whipped into a mass of white caps. This made it very difficult to find the white
dolphin even if she were close by. The
shrimp trawlers were laid up so we could not depend on finding the dolphins
following them for their free food as usual.
The water temperature dropped below fifty degrees which caused most of
the shrimp and fish to leave the sound.
Nevertheless, we found Snowball several times but not in a position to
make a set. She usually gave us the slip
after we had followed in her wake for only a few minutes. Her dark baby was still with her. It appeared to be about a year old.
dogged persistence did not help much as general conditions became worse. We were forced to admit defeat. After talking with the local shrimp fishermen
and taking their advice we made plans to return to Miami and to return the
following June or July. At this time the
weather conditions would be more suitable and the shrimp and fish would be back
in the sound. We headed towards home on
a six-day run with the only thing in our live-well being three sturgeon for our
We had found the
fishermen of Village Creek helpful and friendly during both our sea-hunts, but
we had not courted any publicity on the venture since the only sure thing about
the capture was that it was not a sure thing, and we didn't want pictures of
empty nets to be the result of our chase.
But we had obtained a legal permit to collect fish and dolphins in South
Carolina waters, and it became generally known by word of mouth that we were hunting
for a white dolphin in St. Helena Sound.
were therefore dismayed when we learned in April 1962 that a local law had been
passed by the South Carolina legislature to make it illegal to capture dolphins
in the waters of Beaufort County. This
was a shock to us, but most of the local residents around St. Helena Sound were
as much surprised to learn that they had a white dolphin living nearby as they
were to learn of the law. South Carolina
papers editorialized that the law was a great thing, and even proclaimed that
the white dolphin was a great tourist attraction for the area.
seemed perfectly ridiculous since I had cruised at one time five days from day
light to dark around St. Helena Sound and its tributaries without spying her
once. This beautiful white creature is
known to have been in that area for the past ten to fifteen years, but I doubt
if four-score tourists had ever seen her.
In fact, vey few besides the local fishermen had ever laid eyes on
her. That is not what we consider to be
a "tourist attraction" in Florida.
General Assembly had enacted "An act making it unlawful to net, trap,
harpoon, lasso or molest genus Delphinus or genus Tursiops in the waters of
Beaufort County." The white dolphin
is genus Tursiops truncatus. Penalty for
violating the law is a fine of not more than $100 or imprisonment for not more
than thirty days.
episode of the law-passing reminded me of an experience I had some years ago at
West End, Grand Bahamas. There was a
twelve timber, thirty-feet long, which had washed ashore during a hurricane
some years before. It was well up on
shore on the water side of the Kings Highway.
We were in need of it to use in building temporary holding pen for live
aquarium fishes. So, I sought out a
local who lived nearby and asked him who it belonged to.
He thought awhile and
said, "I don't expect it belongs to anybody until some one wants it, then
everybody on the Island will claim it.
and Burton Clark, general manager of the Seaquarium, and I discussed the legal
situation. We had a legal permit to
collect fishes and marine creatures in Carolina waters, which would allow us
legally to net the dolphin in the waters of any county except the restricted
county. We had followed the white
dolphin for days on end in two other counties, so we agreed we should go back
and try again in hope of finding her at the right time and tide outside the
felt the time was right in July so we left the Seaquarium and after a five
hundred-mile run arrived in St. Helena Sound the night of June 19th. Next day we took up our usual patrol but did
not see Snowball. Late next day we found
her following the trawlers with a large pod.
But she was in the restricted territory, and though we followed until
dark she did not leave the area. We were
used to this by now so were not dismayed.
Over this area of several hundred square miles of water, whether in or
out of the prohibited county line there were but few places where we could
attempt to put our net around her.
Hazards were very deep water, strong currents, snags, too many other
dolphins with her. Most important
element of all was the fact that if we circled out net around her while she was
with a large pod there would be a chance of drowning some of them before we
could set them free. Snowball might be
one of them.
from our log tell of that trip:
JULY 18, 1962: With boats and gear loaded on board we pulled
out of our basin 5:20 A.M. Well out in
the Gulf Stream we found it nice going.
Off Ft. Pierce we were met by a large pod of spotted dolphins. They followed and played about out boat for
half hour, sporting and leaping close to our prow as if to lead us merrily on
our way. This produced some good movies
and stills. About 6 P.M., thirty miles
off Cape Canaveral we ran into a terrific black squall through which Captain
Hanson could navigate from topside only by using a diving face mask to see
ahead. This lasted a half hour and we
continued on our northerly course through the night in moderate weather.
JULY 19, 1962: Daylight found us about sixty miles off the
Georgia coast heading for Savannah lightship.
We attracted a few more spotted dolphin escorts and also ran into a
large herd of pilot whales. We raised
the sea bouy off St. Helena Sound about dark and ran into a favorable anchorage
up in Ashepoo River where we spent the night.
20, 1962: Out early on the search which
lasted all day. With six pair of eyes
anxiously scanning the waters we saw no sign of Snowball. Many great swarms of dark-colored dolphin but
no sign of the white one. Later, we
talked to Sonny Gay on ship-to-ship telephone who was shrimp trawling. He informed us that he had seen Snowball
nearly every day near the south side of the sound which was in the restricted
area. At least that was
encouraging. Anchored for the night in
21, 1962: Upped anchor 7:00 A.M. and
continued the search as usual from north side of sound to the south and ran
many miles up the rivers. We were
warned, or reminded, not to touch any dolphin in the restricted county. After a full day's hunt through the waters of
three different counties we ran into Rock Creek to ride out a bad line squall
and spend the night. Again we had failed
to find Snowball.
22, 1962: A full day of routine search
without a trace of Snowball. However, we
were boarded by another fisheries' agent who told us he had seen Snowball
several days earlier in this area. While
waiting and hoping she might show up again, we dragged trawl and caught a good
quantity of assorted fishes along with enough shrimp for dinner. During this time, while all hands were on
topside, I called for everyone's attention and said, "Let there be no
doubt as to the success of this trip, we just can't miss." I then pulled a rabbit foot from my pocket
and held it up for view.
that's just what we need - why didn't you bring it along before," remarked
Emil, with a noticeable tinge of sarcasm.
As dark came on - with no sign of our quarry - we ran into Rock Creek
and anchored for the night.
23, 1962: Out early for a long day's
search. We covered all the likely
areas. Dolphins were abundant but no
white one. Anchored in Morgan River for
24, 1962: A very bad windy, grey
day. High winds and black squalls made
our efforts quite hopeless. Back to Rock
Creek for the night.
25, 1962: Out on usual patrol. Shrimp trawler, "Miss Helen,"
called up on ship-to-ship radio and reported Snowball on south side of Pelican
Banks. This was in restricted territory
but we found her and followed her and her baby for three hours or more in hopes
she would lead off to a place where we might try to put our net around
her. She finally gave us the slip. We proceeded in to Gay's Dock where we took
on fuel and supplies. Came out and
anchored well up in Morgan River.
26, 1962: Our early and soon found
Snowball and her baby in restricted area.
Followed them about for three hours when they headed out across the
sound into the adjoining county waters.
In desperation we made a set even though conditions were not too
favorable. We captured five dark-skinned
dolphins and our photographers took some wanted action pictures; Snowball
we could retrieve our net the swift current carried us into the mouth of Rock
Creek, where it was severely torn because of snags. We had it back in good repair by midnight and
ready to go again.
27, 1962: Out a short time when we
spotted Snowball and her herd in Chehaw River.
We patiently followed her about six miles up when she with baby and
three others branched off into New Chehaw Creek. We thought we had a good chance and ran the
net out around her and her mates.
However, she and baby escaped but we captured the three others which we
did not want. Before we could get our
net in the incoming tide had increased to such force we were unable to retrieve
the net. We held on until the tide
slackened around midnight and because of the many snags it was badly torn.
1962: Worked on repairing net all day.
30, 1962: A dark cloudy day. Started our usual patrol and located Snowball
in Morgan River, restricted territory.
She led us a merry chase up-stream, but we followed until late
afternoon. A terrific squall drove us
into a creek near Beaufort where we anchored for the night.
31, 1962: We spied Snowball well out in
St. Helena Sound where she and her pack were following the shrimp trawlers
picking up there fill of dead fish shoveled overboard from the catch. Snowball, with a half dozen others, having
had all they could swallow evidently decided to take a cruise. We followed hopefully as they headed up into
Ashepoo River and after six hours turned off into Fishing Creek. This is what we were hoping for as this was
well away from the restricted area. Well
up this creek they seemed to locate something they were interested in, perhaps
a school of trout. Anyway, they huddled
up in a small area close to the grassy shore.
The water was the right depth, not too much tide, a couple hours of
daylight left. Everything perfect. This was it.
ran in close to shore and as Captain Hanson gave the signal the net began to
run out. We were all elated as this was
the best chance we had ever had. It
looked like a sure thing this time. But-
by the time the net was on-third out, it became tangled fast around a
cleat. We had to stop headway to clear
it. By that time, about one and a half
minutes, our quarry sized up the situation and took off for parts unknown. We could not find her again that day.
1, 1962: A nice day in the making as we
pulled out from our favorite anchorage in Rock Creek. On our way through the river Emil and I were
on look-out from the topside. I felt the
rabbit foot in my pocket and pulled it out.
Showing it to Emil I said, "Guess my charmed rabbit foot failed
us." Emil replied, "Looks that
way. Perhaps it's the wrong
foot." Said I, "I don't know
which foot it is except I am sure it is the wrong one." Then I threw it as far out in the river as I
could. Emil responded by saying,
"It's going to take more than rabbits feet to out-smart or out-luck the
ghost we are after."
on our regular search we were informed by one of our shrimp-trawling
that Snowball was over on the south side following the trawlers. We ran
over but did not locate her. She no doubt had her fill and was off on
2, 1962: We found her with the shrimpers
in the same restricted waters. After we
had followed her about for three hours a severe squall came and all boats were
forced to go in. At the shrimp docks we
took on fuel and provisions. About 3:00
P.M. the storm broke and we went out and continued our search until dark -
without results. Anchored again 8:00
P.M. in Rock Creek.
3, 1962: Out early on our regular
beat. The weather was favorable but we
could not find Snowball. During the late
morning we picked up some conversation among the shrimpers on their radiophones
and they said she was following the shrimp boats. We ran across the sound and found her on the
south side well out in the sound. By
this time we were all becoming quite desperate.
We followed her until she finally split off from the pack, and when
Snowball and her baby strayed over a shoal spot, we tried to net them. This was another "almost."
after we had our net back on board a speed boat manned by a couple of
officers hailed us in order to board our craft.
One wore the uniform and insignia of the State Fish and Wildlife Service
and the other that of the State Highway Patrol.
With them were two newspaper men and a photographer. They looked as if
they meant business. When asked what they wanted, they replied
that they wanted to talk to us and to make a routine inspection - so we
welcomed them aboard. After they snooped
about our boat from stem to stern we sensed that they were disappointed
find what they had expected. Of course,
we were aware of the fact that we were being constantly watched by the
authorities from shore and other boats through binoculars. We concluded
the reason for the surprise
visit was due to the fact that they saw us put out our net, even though
outside the uncertain county boundary line.
Anyway they found nothing illegal about our boat or operations so they
on their way. We continued our routine
patrol without sighting Snowball again.
We anchored for the night in Edisto River.
4, 1962: We noticed shrimpers dragging
about the mouth of the Edisto River and saw a great number of dolphins in their
wake. As we came closer we spied
Snowball and her baby among them. This
was an area where our net would fish top and bottom and we were within our
legal rights to fish. We followed until
all conditions seemed just right and Captain Hanson yelled "Let it go."
As he was about to close
the circle with Snowball and baby inside he stopped the boat and yelled again,
"Get the net back!"
Just as he was about to
close the net he had noticed a dozen or more large dolphins had come to the
surface within the circle. Realizing
that if so many dolphins became tangled in our net we might only have a slim
chance of capturing the only two we wanted alive, we retrieved the net and made
ready to start all over again. Some
hours later we found her again in the same area and followed in readiness until
she with her baby split off from the herd.
This time we circled the pair successfully. AT this point we anchored the mother ship and
from two small boats began to tighten the circle of net. When Snowball realized the net was closing in
she charged full speed and struck it.
She floundered about until she became tangled. This was what we expected and hoped for. We lost no time in getting to her and rolling
her into the boat. We delivered her
promptly aboard the mother ship and placed her tied down on a sponge rubber
mattress. Then we hastened back to the
net where the baby was still struggling to get free. We rescued baby and hurried back to place the
baby alongside his mother. It was a
boy. Some hearty whoops and yells from
all hands relieved the greatly built-up tension. We roped in our net and headed for the open
sea. We rounded the sea buoy at 3:00
P.M. and headed south.
had placed Snowball and her boy in a special rubber tank on deck, and they
seemed to be taking it very well. There
was a constant watch to make sure they did not become excited or disturbed and
possibly drown. The weather was
fortunately moderate. After a
fifty-eight-hour run we pulled into our basin at the Seaquarium the next night
at 9:00 P.M. The tension around the
Seaquarium had been building up ever since we radioed in that we were on the
way back with our prize.
We pulled into the basin
amid a blast of flash lights and flares and were greeted by a large gathering
of television cameramen, photographers, newspaper writers, our families, and a
great many friends, waiting there to congratulate us on our achievement. We were certainly all greatly relieved when
we carried Snowball and her baby boy over to the new special pool which was to
be their home. As they were released in
their new home they both seemed to be quite content and we were all very happy.
is quite possible that the percentage of albino births among mammals is about
the same as among land animals or humans. However, an albino dolphin, born in its
natural element, would have but a slight chance for survival because of the
outstanding color contrast of its mother and other dark-skinned members of its
clan. The flashy white body would stand
out as a ready target for all predators.
that Carolina Snowball is known to have lived her life in the murky, dark
waters of St. Helena Sound and its tributaries where large vicious sharks are
rare is a sound reason why she lived in this favorable and quite isolated
LIFE Magazine noted that sixteen times CAROLINA SNOWBALL escaped the collectors' wide-flung net. But on the 17th cast, CAROLINA SNOWBALL was finally captured, legally, in St. Helena Sound in Colleton County, SC, and
brought to Miami where she enjoyed the admiration of millions and millions of
fans who came to see her.
Miami Herald August 7, 1962
In all, it had taken Captain Gray FIFTY-EIGHT DAYS of actual pursuit
over the course of nine months to capture the albino dolphin - and it
was his last expedition. Her baby boy, captured along with CAROLINA
SNOWBALL, was named SONNY BOY in honor of Captain Sonny Gay, the South
Carolina fisherman who first told Captain Gray about Snowball.
Notice how CAROLINA SNOWBALL's teeth are jet black! Her trainer was Adolph Frohn, and she was the Miami Seaquarium's star attraction, drawing millions of people from around the world to see and admire her.
The outrage in South Carolina (LIFE Magazine called it jealousy) caused by SNOWBALL's capture, albeit totally legal, led to expansion of Beaufort County's law into a statewide ban a few years later. And despite efforts to repeal the law on several occasions, South Carolina remains the only state that bans the capture of dolphins.
The News and Courier, Feb. 13, 1963
Capt. Bill Gray and Snowball exchange greetings.
This is SONNY BOY, the baby boy captured along with CAROLINA SNOWBALL on August 4, 1962. SONNY BOY was named after the South Carolina shrimp boat captain, Capt. Sonny Gay, who first told Capt. Bill Gray about Snowball in 1957.
The Miami News, Sept. 3, 1963
This press photo with trainer Judy Schurr is dated February 12, 1965. Trainer Judy Schurr is also shown with Carolina Snowball in the postcard below.
Three years after CAROLINA SNOWBALL was brought to the Seaquarium she developed an infection at the base of her tail. She began swimming erratically one day and, to the horror of tourists watching, she veered into the picture window with a sickening thud. Despite six weeks of heroic efforts undertaken by Robert Baldwin, director of operations at Miami Seaquarium, Snowball died in 1965.
St. Petersburg Times, May 5, 1965
In a necropsy, doctors discovered that Snowball lived with all sorts of problems. She had a tumor of the stomach as large as a tennis ball, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema, cysts embedded in several organs, and muscles full of parasites. Nothing could have been done for any of this.
To mark the delight she brought to so many people who came to see her, CAROLINA SNOWBALL was mounted in a playful pose at the entrance of the Main Tank of the Miami Seaquarium, in a place of honor on the wall near the popcorn stand.
After capturing CAROLINA SNOWBALL, Captain Bill Gray moved on to become the Director of Collections at the Miami Seaquarium, where he worked and authored several books, until his death in the early 1980s.
SONNY BOY, the son of CAROLINA SNOWBALL, lived 11 years at the Seaquarium, until his death in 1973.
Early 1970s, Seaquarium, 25c
Late 1980s-early 1990s (in the shop)
TODAY, Seaquarium, $2. The CAROLINA SNOWBALL moldset is sometimes seen with a "Flipper" engraving from SEAQUARIUM.
The CAROLINA SNOWBALL moldset is a pre-numbering system, early mating-design moldset, placing
it among the handful of moldsets made immediately following the success
of MOLD-A-RAMA at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. (Probably ordered soon after her capture on August 4, 1962, perhaps along with the MGM flipper reissued in week 13.)
Where is CAROLINA SNOWBALL today, you might ask?
Well, it took some serious looking, but we finally found her. She's mounted along with a Great White Shark, behind a storage area. That's her (below) above that fence line, with pipes stored on shelves under her. You used to be able to view in that area, but over the years bracing was added to support the structure above, and the area has since been turned into a storage area.
Disclaimers: The color and/or exact condition of the MOLD you get in the CLUB-A-RAMA may or may not be as shown. Not for children under 3.
If YOU would like to own this very moldset (and perhaps even
include a fully operating MOLDVILLE machine to go with it) so you can
reissue your own souvenirs from 50 years ago, please email
MoldvilleMachine@gmail.com TODAY - before someone else beats you to it!