The friendly dolphins at Marine Life have been part of the Coast tourism industry for years. The group Save Our Dolphins says the Coast is where they belong.
"The dolphins are part of our community. The community has a huge investment in them and they're going to be part of our rebuilding process. We'd like to have them here," Rusty Walker, director of Save Our Dolphins, says.
But the majority owners of the now destroyed Marine Life are selling the 17 performing dolphins to a production company in the Bahamas.
"We don't want to sell them and export them to a foreign country, which is what we're doing. We're ripping out dolphins, some of which were born right here at Marine Life, many of which have been here 30 years."
Former Marine Life Director Moby Solangi arranged for the mammals to go to a research center in the Florida Keys at no cost until a planned aquarium could be built in Gulfport. Solangi is legally trying to block the sale of the dolphins.
"Moby and I have worked behind doors, working on a project that was coming here for the Coast for a huge aquarium," Save Our Dolphins member Ricky Dombrowski says. "There was never an official announcement but he has federal funds involved in this project in accounts under his organization and I'd like to see that developed here."
If that happens, Dombrowski and Walker say Marine Life's star performers will have a first rate place to live.
"You have to be licensed by the federal government to have dolphins kept this way and we're fortunate that we are one of the only areas on the Coast that have them and we don't want to see them go away. We want to see them stay here," Dombrowski says.
Walker says Save Our Dolphins is working to recruit members from across the country.
Meanwhile, new Marine Life President David Lion says he knows nothing of the newly formed group. And he says moving the dolphins to the Bahamas is in their best interest.