Shamu! Shamu! Shamu!

Wednesday was Sea World day and we first went to the Orca pools and looked at the few of them we could see. In another pool we could see a giant fin, so tall that the top part was bent. We then thought that it must’ve been Shamu, the original Orca. Some research on the topic unveiled that the original Shamu died in 1971 and that it’s just kept as a stage name for, well, any of the orcas really. The Orca show wasn’t until 12.30 so we went and looked at the dolphins.

The dolphins were housed in a pool with rather low edges so that if you bought some fish you were allowed to feed and pet the dolphins at a few set times during the day. We didn’t do that though, it was way too crowded.

We didn’t get much breakfast that day so we got a early lunch at an ridiculously expensive cafeteria. Food was good though and we rounded off the meal by splitting a classic American chocolate cake. Very nice! We had some more time to kill before the Orca show so we went to the fourth aquarium of our trip. Each one has been slightly different and in this one there were sea turtles and really cool big fishes.

At this time we heard a call for the dolphin show and we went to where we thought it would be. It turned out to be wrong so we went and petted some Bat rays instead. They were rather friendly and swam right up to the hand. There were some Guitarfish in the pool next to it, but they weren’t as interested in being petted. You could also go down a ramp to see the parts of the pool that was under water. There they kept the Moray Eels (Muränor) and there were quite a lot of them! Basically it looked like a pot of spaghetti at places…

We still had some time before the Orca show so we looked at the Sea Otters. They weren’t as interesting as the ones at Monterey Bay but they were probably taking a nap or something. You could also look through a window to the nursery where they kept a baby otter. It was very cute and playful! It tried hard to soak a towel they had there but the keeper caught the towel in time…

Finally it was time for the Orca show, we seated ourselves in the soak zone (= the first 12 rows) and got a great view. The show was a bit corny with a lot of wilderness romantics, but the Orcas were great! At one point one of the handlers started spinning on his back in a break dance-esque move. This was apparently the signal for one of the Orcas to slide up on the platform and spin 360 degrees! Really awesome to see such a big animal do a thing like that. Other than that they did the usual stuff, jumping, carrying trainers and the like. One thing was a bit weird though; at one point it was time for the wetting of the audience. The trainers then instructed everyone to make this sign mimicking an Orca tail fin splashing while chanting “Shamu, Shamu, Shamu”. It almost felt like a revival meeting… All the chanting didn’t help though, we didn’t a single drop of water on us, which I found a bit disappointing.

Done with the Orcas we went to see the Clydesdale horses, what they are doing at Sea World I don’t really know, but they were nice all the same (update: the owner of the park is Anheuser-Busch, also owner of the Budweiser beer brand which apparently have the Clydesdales as their mascot).

We continued on to see the Polar Bears, but instead found ourselves by the log ride equivalent and a tank full of Commerson’s Dolphins . They were really cool to watch as they were beautiful and constantly racing about, playing with each other. Afterwards we found the building housing the Polar Bears, and to get in you had to first see another one of the 4D movies that are so common. This time it was a helicopter ride through the Arctic to a mock research station, of course there was a near crash and all that usual stuff. (Jonna comment: afterwards I overheard a little girl saying “is it true mum? Are we really in the Arctics now?” and the mum answered “…Yes” 🙂 ) After the movie we got to go through the research station where they had Sea Elephants, Beluga Whales and a sleeping Polar Bear.

Next up we had the Penguins; housed in a giant refrigerator with a flat escalator going by a big viewing glass. Penguins are always fun, and they also had some Atlantic Puffins (Lunnefåglar). Outside of the Penguin fridge they had the pet show that we initially didn’t plan attending but since it started just as we walked by we went in. It was a bit too American for my taste with very loud presenters and pet tricks that mostly reminded me of America’s Funniest Home Videos. (Jonna comment: one of the dogs was pretty clever. It went in, missed catching the frisbee and then stayed and got scratched behind the ear for the rest of the show. No trick necessary!).

We had a spot of time afterwards before the Dolphin show so we watched the Sea Lions getting fed. Quite greedy buggers those lions… At the Dolphin show we once again took a seat in the soak zone and listened to the warm-up act; a pop star wannabe handler doing some songs on his guitar. At the start of the show they introduced a family that got to pet and feed the dolphins, we didn’t pay it much mind at first but after a while it started getting weird. Finally the mom falls into the water and gets a backwards ride around the pool from a kind of whale with a very long name that I can’t remember, that’s when we smelled the rat… The mom was of course a trainer in disguise.

The show was good with lots of jumping and pushing people about. We also finally got really wet during the splashy part (it was the whale with the really long name doing the same things the Orcas did earlier). After the show we went to the freshwater aquarium before attending the last show; some sort of animal theater involving the rescue of a Sea Elephant, plenty of otters and a couple of Sea Lions. Most amusing was actually the mime doing the warm-up show.

Last of all we checked out the Shark building, it was really nice with a big acrylic tube under water so that you got to see the sharks up close. Walking out to the parking lot we saw a few weird towers with staff in them, telling people what to do in the parking lot. We didn’t really get the point of it but apparently it was important enough to pay someone to do it.

This was the day we were supposed to turn in the car again but we called and got an extension since we wanted to back to Coronado for a swim that evening. So Jonna just keyed in some random destination out on Coronado and we started driving. It had been a really long day at this point so Jonna dozed off while I followed the GPS directions. When I found myself on a one-way street leading up to a very official-looking guard booth I woke Jonna up wondering what she’d actually put in as destination. It turns out that half of Coronado is a Naval base and we were heading right for it. I did some half-assed explaining to the guard that asked for my license. “I’m going to hold on to this while you turn to that exit over there and then I’ll give it back to you.” Said and done, I got the license back and we were on our way again. Jonna felt a bit bad about sleeping, serves her right… =)

We went back to the same place we were the day before and played around in the waves some more. There was quite a lot of kelp washing in so we took a couple of pictures with it. All cooled down we went back to the motel to change before walking downtown to get some food. We had seen a nice Indian restaurant the night before that we wanted to try. I asked for spicy food and the waitress seemed to think it was unusual. When we got the food she actually lingered for a bit ‘just to make sure I didn’t choke on it’ she later confessed. The food was really strong, but I wasn’t too impressed with the taste. Mostly felt like they’d put lots of dried chili in and not bothered with the other flavors that much. Still good though.