SeaWorld: flipper and friends

One of the many venues that can be seen from the Skytower is Dolphin Discovery, with its lighthouse motif.  But we made a lot of stops along the way.  It was sort of like Dorothy and the gang…we had to have many adventures before we reached the Emerald City.

In the interest of trying to force a thematic scheme to today’s photographic offerings, the old television shows Sea Hunt and Flipper kept popping into my head…with a touch of Might Morphin’ Power Rangers.

In order, for the purposes of this epic, we visited the dolphins at Rocky Point Preserve, the sea turtles near Shipwreck Rapids (a ride we did not take), Cirque de la Mer, Shark Encounter, Manatee Rescue, Dolphin Discovery and, finally, Penguin Encounter.  Maybe the good news is that I do not have photos of them all.

So, without further ado, Flipper:

Fourteen more photos on the inside…

At Rocky Point Preserve people can get “up close and personal” with some dolphins, in the sense that you can actually touch one, as long as you can get its attention.  Getting attention generally involves food.  Periodically during the day one can purchase a tray of food (perhaps what they meant was trey, since a “tray of food” is three sardine sized fish).  If you ever go there and try this, beware the birds who hang around and mug park visitors for the food.  Viciously.  Only one of our fish actually found its way to a dolphin.

The dolphin we fed had stitches in his mouth.  We inquired and were told that he had recently had some polyps removed and was recovering satisfactorily.

In the interest of conserving space in the camera’s memory, we did not take any photos of the California Tide Pool exhibit.  There will be plenty starfish, anemones, etc, visible when we see photos from the Aquarium of the Pacific (next).  Slightly beyond that exhibit were the turtles.  Given Laurie’s love of tortoises and the fact that she had gotten to swim with sea turtles in Hawaii, we had to stop there.

Most species of sea turtles are at best endangered:  the loggerhead and the Hawaiian green fall into that category.  The leatherback, the hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle are all critically endangered.  Only the Olive Ridley is of least concern.

If anyone is interested, terrapins are turtles, but not sea turtles.  They rather live in the brackish water of coastal swamps.

Next up for us was “stupid human tricks,” aka Cirque de La Mer, which is sort of a water circus performed by Japanese acrobats (hence the Power Rangers reference).  I took no pictures of it, but here is the arena, from above.

Next stop was Shark Encounter, but dude, they were having a power failure when we were there.  The people mover was failing to move us, the AC not working meant extremely high humidity, and there was only emergency lighting.  I took a pick anyway, which appears below thanks to the miracle of false-color imaging.

One of the best known species of sharks, the hammerhead, is endangered, but most species are doing okay…relatively speaking.

Having waited, as patiently as possible for much of the day, we finally got to where I had been dying to see:  the manatees.  I think they are magnificent peaceful creatures…though the individuals presented to us all bore scars from their encounters with humans.

The Sirens (they are in the order Sirenia) include the West Indian, West African, and Amazon species of manatee and the dugong.  Steller’s sea cow was discovered in the Bering Strait by Europeans in 1741 and extinct by 1768.  The manatees and dugongs are all considered vulnerable.

The name “sea cow” is appropriate:  the sirens are the only herbivores among the ungulates who returned to the sea.

I tried for a close-up of a manatee face;  I got a close-up of a fin instead.

By the time we arrived for the Dolphin Encounter show, we were dragging:  hot, thirsty, and hungry.  We overpaid for some lemonade for the thirst thing…but I now own two Shamu sippy cups.  🙁

On our way to the exit, we passed by the Penguin Encounter, but the condensation on the windows separating them from us made visibility minimal and photography next to impossible.

My photo of a puffin almost came out.  I love puffins.  So I took a picture of a puffin in Long Beach and am sneaking it in here where nobody will notice. 🙂

Puffins are not considered endangered but there have been recent reports of colonies collapsing and puffins not returning to traditional breeding grounds.


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    • Robyn on September 6, 2008 at 21:15

    …by It’s a Beautiful Day was apparently unavailable, but here is Fred Neil doing a version I don’t like as well.  I guess that’s okay, since he may have written it:

    • Robyn on September 6, 2008 at 22:18

    So has the landlady.  There’s an open house on the property tomorrow afternoon, so it is unclear if there will be a Café Discovery.

  1. Thanks for posting.

    BTW, there are currently a grand total of zero Shamu sippy cups on Ebay.  Just a thought.

    And the manatee picture looks suspiciously like the supposed pictures of plesiosaurs from Loch Ness.  I’m usually not big on conspiracy theories, but for some reason your manatee picture struck me immediately as a picture of Nessie.

  2. about this

    I tried for a close-up of a manatee face;  I got a close-up of a fin instead.

    And I’m with you on puffins…although I did think that the recent reintroduction efforts were succeeding–at least the ones off the New England coast?

    The only time I ever saw one in its native habitat, I was on a whale-watching cruise out of Northeast Harbor, ME.  Went to the head, and when I came out the naturalist was pointing out the puffin.  I was still belowdeck but got a glimpse through the porthole before it dove, and the naturalist said “well, we won’t see that one again” or words to that effect, and told us how deep they can go and how far they can swim underwater.

    It was really cool.

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