An Enlightening Day at SeaWorld

I confess I had misgivings about going to SeaWorld.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about all those magnificent creatures held in captivity and forced to learn tricks to entertain the masses.  After spending a wonderfully enlightening day there, I still have mixed feelings, but I also have a better understanding of SeaWorld’s purpose.  Their mandate is huge.  They rescue, rehabilitate and often release many marine animals every year.  They also educate the public on the part they can play to better the environment for marine life.  But this post is not about the political/moral rights and wrongs of keeping animals in captivity, it’s about enjoying how amazing, intelligent and beautiful these creatures are.

Hubby and I eagerly arrived right when SeaWorld opened.  The first spectacle we came across was a group of flamingos right out in the open.  Usually when you think of flamingos, you envision something like this.

6-88 SeaWorld

What we saw were these comical characters strutting their stuff.  I had no idea flamingos were so tall, some came close to six feet.  And very personable too.

6-4 SeaWorld

Next we went over to Dolphin Point, to watch the frisky little characters cavort and entertain.  This friendly fellow came right up to the window to say hello to me.

6-16 SeaWorld

Apparently dolphins can develop kidney issues as they age and they need to stay hydrated to prevent this.  Part of the staff’s husbandry duties is to insert a tube down their throats and pour fresh water directly into them.  The dolphin seemed completely relaxed and okay during the procedure.

6-11 Hydrating the dolphins, SeaWorld

Next stop was the Bat Ray feeding station.  They’re very friendly and would allow us to pat them as they came begging for food.  This big guy practically climbed out of his pool in hopes that I might give him a snack.

6-24 Bat Ray, SeaWorld

A bat ray viewed from below.

6-27 Bat Ray, SeaWorld

We really enjoyed the Story of Shamu, put on by SeaWorld’s education department.  It explains the purpose behind their programs and introduces the killer whales in a casual setting.

6-41 The Shamu Story, SeaWorld

This isn’t the clearest picture, but the height that immense mammal reached was impressive.

6-40 The Shamu Story, SeaWorld

This is one of my favourite photos of the day.  Take a look at the white heron just to the right of the trainer’s shoulder.  Mr Hopeful, looking to scrounge any leftovers.

6-50 The Shamu Story, SeaWorld

Tidal pool creatures:

6-63 Tidal pool, SeaWorld

6-68 Tidal pool, SeaWorld

We saw all kinds of turtles:

6-80 SeaWorld

6-85 Sea turtles, SeaWorld

6-99 SeaWorld

6-100 SeaWorld

Walking through the submerged viewing tube at the Shark Encounter exhibition was very cool, but difficult to photograph because of the low lighting, and well, because you can’t exactly ask the menacing creatures to stop swimming for a moment while you snap their picture.  This poor quality picture still manages to give me shivers.  Cue the Jaws music.

6-115 Shark tank, SeaWorld

I LOVE penguins.  They’re just too cute.  These little fellows are from warm climates such as South Africa.

6-121 Heat loving penguins, SeaWorld

6-126 Heat loving penguins, SeaWorld

This is a baby penguin.  He’s about the same size as the others, but doesn’t have his markings yet.

6-125 Heat loving penguins, SeaWorld

The Antarctic penguins are kept inside, in an icy polar environment they’re accustomed to.  I found them so very entertaining and comical, I could’ve sat there for hours – but it was darn cold.

6-127 Antartic penguins, SeaWorld

6-128 Antartic penguins, SeaWorld

These striking fellows are the largest of the penguin family, the Emperors, and they stand a good three feet tall.

6-133 Emperor penguins, SeaWorld

There was also a Puffin exhibit.  Such cute little sea birds with their bright orange beaks, but my photos couldn’t do them justice.

6-140 Puffins, SeaWorld

At the Wild Arctic exhibit, there was supposed to be walruses, polar bears and belugas.  I was disappointed to only find a single walrus.  He was a fine large fellow but, like a child, I wanted to see the bears and whales too.

6-144 Walrus, SeaWorld

The Animal Connections exhibit offered up some common and not so common creatures.  Who would’ve thought a porcupine could be so cute?

6-148 SeaWorld

I’m not sure what exactly this big guy was, but he looked as though he’d been assembled with beads.  The pattern of his scales (?) was incredibly intricate and beautiful.  (Edit:  He’s called a Water Monitor)

6-151 Water Monitor, SeaWorld

We returned to the killer whale stadium for the afternoon show.  These large mammals are affectionate and intelligent, as well as beautiful, and I really fell in love with them.

6-153 Orca Show, SeaWorld

6-159 Orca Show, SeaWorld

6-169 Orca Show, SeaWorld

After that show, we rushed across the park to the Blue Horizon Stadium to catch the dolphin show.  I love dolphins about as much as I love penguins (and I really love penguins).  I was very impressed with the story, the setting and the skill of the people, dolphins, pilot whales and birds involved in this production.

6-186 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-191 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-192 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-197 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

Another of my favourite photos of the day.  Just look at the happy expression on that dolphin’s face.

6-201 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

6-204 Blue Horizons show, SeaWorld

Then we had another mad rush to get to the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium for the final show of the day.  And, surprisingly, I have to vote it as my favourite.  I’d heard of trained seals, but had no idea the intelligence of Clyde and Seamore, the Sea Lions, and bright little OP Otter stole the show.  First came an entertaining and amusing skit.

6-211 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

6-215 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

Then came their own version of Survivor.

6-221 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

The tribe speaks.

6-230 OP Otter, SeaWorld

Finally the sea lions performed some dance acts with their trainers.

6-232 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

6-236 Sea Lion show, SeaWorld

As would be expected, SeaWorld is filled with a multitude of aquariums.  We spent hours gazing at every type of sea life imaginable.  I’ll leave off with a few of my favourite shots.

This purple blob is actually a rock fish.

6-242 Rock fish, SeaWorld

6-244 SeaWorld

6-247 SeaWorld

6-249 SeaWorld

6-250 SeaWorld

6-253 SeaWorld

6-255 SeaWorld

Please come back next weekend and share with me our day at Balboa Park. Jump to that post HERE or start with the trip’s first post HERE.

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7 thoughts on “An Enlightening Day at SeaWorld

  1. Hi Joyce, I agree with having mixed feelings about the animals in captivity. I absolutely love whales and dolphins and would love to see them in the wild. It is nice for people to be able to see the majestic animals up close, but my main concern is they are such social animals and the room they have for being so big, just doesn’t seem far to me. And I always wonder when I see whales and dolphins performing, just how happy they really are and they were probably taken away from their families, their pods in the wild. So I’m kind of torn about it, I think it would be so cool to pet one, but the better of me would probably feel really sad for them. I don’t think certain animals care where they are living, like the turtle and the lizards, but I think the whales and dolphins know that something is not right. Oh but please don’t get me wrong I’m glad you had a chance to go and see them and glad you had such an amazing day! I sometimes wish my heart could over look things sometimes, I think sometimes I care and get caught up to much! I always say I got my big heart from my dad! Oh and the big lizard that you saw is called a Water Monitor.My son Peter is a lizard person and I’ve looked at hundreds of pictures of many different kinds!
    Take care and thanks for sharing your adventures with us!
    Blessings, Linda

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    • I had the same trepidations as you, Linda, and after seeing the whales and dolphins for myself and listening to the educational program, many of my concerns were eased. The vast majority of the animals at SeaWorld are rescues or born in captivity. They might not be alive if they weren’t living there. They’re also very sociable creatures and most love the interaction with their “humans”. They’re natural performers too, as is witnessed in the wild, so enjoy jumping and splashing for the audience. Would they rather be in the wild? No doubt about it. But if the choice is living in captivity for the rest of their lives or not being alive, my vote goes for captivity, as long as they’re well treated, and I strongly believe that they’re cared for well there. Thanks for letting me know the name of the lizard. It was an incredibly beautiful creature. 🙂

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      • Yes I’m sure they are well cared for there, but I have seen some not so nice videos of bad living conditions and small yucky tanks. But as every thing in life goes you always have the good side to things and the bad. I just wish the good would over rule all the bad in the world! 😉 And that every one and every creature would be treated with love and respect! I know I’m a dreamer and don’t ask for much!!
        Take Care, Linda

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