But soon Griffin's crazy dolphin-riding ambitions evolved into one even a bit more symptomatic of an unstable mind: riding those bigger animals, the one's with ‘killer' in their name. He even began to stalk them.
"As the years went by I became fascinated with the whales that were in Puget Sound but of course they're extremely dangerous. ... I lived on the water and we started following the whales in the boat and then...," said Griffin.
"[I]n that period of time... I decided I would attempt to ride one of these whales, later learning that the whale was actually a dolphin but a very big one, with teeth of course".
For years, Griffin patrolled Puget Sound by boat, and occasionally even a helicopter, in search of a whale to ride. He knocked on doors of houses along the water to ask if people if they'd seen any, and even tried to get the Coast Guard to help him track one down.
To be clear, this was more than quest for a new attraction at his aquarium. It was to force the animal to be his friend.
"The idea was simple enough," Griffin recalled. "I would have the whale as a personal companion but I'd have to charge admission to see him so I could feed him because as it worked out, he ate about 400 pounds of salmon every day."
But the whales weren't cooperating with his plan. So consumed with this fantasy, Griffin neglected his business and was driven into bankruptcy.
Then, in 1965, he had a stroke of luck. Griffin heard that some fishermen up north in Namu, British Columbia had accidently snared a 22-foot-long killer whale, and were willing to sell it for $8,000. The crafty aquarium operator tapped his friends for some cash and giddily caught a plane to Namu to claim the unfortunate creature which he had fixated on for so long.
"I went up and viewed the whale and really fell in love...," he said.