Of the captivating characters mentioned in the book, there were none more fascinating to me than the matriarch herself, Marjorie Siebenaler. My only regret is not being able to meet or interview her as she has long since passed away, forever resting in a cemetery less than 2 miles from my home.
If only she knew now that a field once dominated by men, a field that must have felt lonely to her at times as the first and only female porpoise trainer at the Gulfarium (and possibly in the world), would eventually yield hundreds of capable, smart, strong, innovating women such as herself. I imagine traveling back in time to tell her myself and thank her for showing bravery, initiative, and for paving the way. Her response? A likely shrug of the shoulders, sweet smile, and a prompt return back to a training session with Herman the dolphin, dive with a massive loggerhead, or whatever other task she had planned for the day.
I don’t think Marjorie saw herself as a brave pioneer the way I do. In fact, up until the very first day she donned a wetsuit, Marjorie was petrified of the water, the sea, and all its inhabitants. She never told her entrepreneur/scientist husband, Gulfarium founder Brandy Siebenaler, until one day they stood poolside at the newly built porpoise habitat. As Brandy jokingly threatened to pick her up and toss her in, Marjorie screamed, “I hate water! I loathe fish!”
It was not until a lack of staffing forced a stubborn Marjorie to perform a dive show rather than cancel the performance. After that, she became Gulfarium’s star performer and demonstrated an innate ability to train the dolphins. Many (male) coworkers later commented that no one had the same relationship with the animals that Marjorie did. Some claimed it was her high pitched voice, others her dedication to job. Personally, I think it was her fearless nature and willingness to try anything.
Like I said, a brave pioneer.
– Krista Stouffer