So…we decided to go to Seaworld this week. This sounds odd, I guess as it’s a vacation destination for most people, but for me, it’s about a 20 mile drive, so it doesn’t require a lot of planning.
I’d never been there, but, I do not do well on amusement park rides, and SeaWorld doesn’t have very many of those, so I chose it over Universal Studios.
I always feel a little strange at these attractions. They have captive animals. In principle I do not think it is right for animals to be kept in captivity, especially for the amusement of humans. So this raises a bunch of ethical issues which are not usually park of a fun day out with a friend. In addition, SeaWorld Orlando is the site of the horrific death of a trainer, just about a year ago. I will say, I am not entirely sure of the value of keeping Orcas, or anything that enormous, in small pools. See, Orlando is in Florida, but it is central Florida, not by any ocean, soooo these Orcas, live in Pools, not the actual ocean. So, I had a lot of issues on my mind as I entered and actually paid for a season pass. SeaWorld, having had some economic slumps after the bad press has a “Pay for a Day-Get in free for a Year” thing for Florida residents.
I will say that I had a good day and really enjoyed the park, and I do plan to return several times this year but I feel I probably should not.
But it really is a bit confusing to me!
So firstly, some photos….
The park is one big circle, but the map they give out it TERRIBLE. We could never find anything the entire day and kept having to ask for directions. I was most interested in seeing the actual Aquariums and such, but as luck would have it, we stumbled right into the Shamu area…the place where all the unfortunate trainer was killed last year.
So. We watched the Shamu Show. I was amazed by the show. Several things struck me. Firstly- the pool is not big at all. I think that it may be about the same size across at the huge pool at my gym (which IS a very very large pool) but of course it seems to be much deeper.
Secondly, the animals seemed to be having a good time. Of course, I wonder, how exactly, would I determine that an animal is having a good time? but, I was impressed at the focus of the trainers on the Orcas, and the obvious connection between the captives and their captors.
The trainers spent a lot of time emphasizing that they never tell an animal what to do , they “Ask” . And I do suppose frankly, if an animal that large does not want to do something…well…they surely don’t have to.
so tasty that when one trainer left the snack box open,one of the egrets that had been hanging around for the whole show swooped right in and grabbed out some lunch! I had wondered why these egrets that are normally not really into stadiums of people were just perched through all the whale jumping chaos!
Anyway. The Whales are really large, and create quite a huge Sploosh when landing after all their incredible jumps….
And so I was sort of surprised at how small the performance arena was. Towards the end, all of the Orcas for the show came out, I think it was 3 and were swimming about, and jumping and actually appeared to be playing a bit…but…again, I am not a marine mammal expert, and I am pretty sure most of the audience was not either. It is pretty easy to believe these creatures are really content. Many of them that were born at Seaworld may actually be quite content, but it still makes me a bit uncomfortable.
Post Shamu…we started to explore the park more and found that they do have sanctuary for injured marine animals, and other endangered animals. I was pleased to see that while they do bring animals out for the public to interact with the animals are not out for long periods of time. In fact, the Lesser anteater was whisked away from me as I was still trying to examine him/her. What an interesting creature.
The bird on the left is a Roseate Spoonbill. I had no IDEA that SeaWorld raises them in captivity. Yes they are threatened, but….I found it strange to see this one being trained etc..because you can drive about 35 minutes to the East and see flocks of them in the wild, doing their Spoonbill thing. Now, you can not see them every day…but I am so so glad I saw my first spoonbill in the wild. They wild ones in Flight are much more impressive than this little Juvenille. He was born apparently in the Texas Park and moved to Orlando.
I have to admit I enjoyed visiting the Turtle Island, which is an are that has Sea Turtles that have been injured….None of the turtles really interacted with the people and seemed rather intent on avoiding us, rather like turtles, so I really dont have a good photo to share.
We also really enjoyed the Sea Lion area. Though I again sort of thought, well…I’ve seen this scene in the wild, in Northern California.
We arrived there at Feeding time. The Sea Lions were funny as many of them would toss the fish up in the air several times before chowing down.
My favorite photo of the day came here, from an animal that is not a captive of the park:
I really love it when these birds puff up. They do this out in the wild also and always remind me of people and hairdryers.
Anyway. We did actually see some non-animal things. I went on a Water flume ride, and survived. My friend rode the Manta ride:
But I decided after reading some of the ride safety requirements, I would be better off on the ground. I do not have any prosthetic appendages, but…anything that may rip them off a body…is probably something I should avoid.
I did get on a simulated Helicopter ride above the antartic sea. I came extremely close to vomiting on a stranger. I was actually considering vomiting in my tote bag, but luckily rides do only go on for so long. I had broken out into a cold sweat and my friend was sort of patting me trying to make it ok. I am just not made of strong stuff in the stomach area.
After the Helicopter ride we entered into the pretend Arctic research station. There we saw Beluga Whales. none of my whale photos came out so instead I am going to show you a Walrus.
I have to say I did enjoy seeing many of the animals, and I am sure that I will never see a Walrus in real life. I also do believe SeaWorld is involved in a certain amount of conservation activities. I do, however, think that the main point of the attraction remains profit, not conservation.
I always wonder what the trainers think of their jobs. More than anyone I would think they would have an actue awareness of the aquatic world and of the animals levels of happiness etc.
I was never completely able to quite get that out of my mind, especially when I was looking at these large large animals in what seemed to be fairly small areas.
I will admit, I felt less concern when looking at the very cool leafy seadragons in a huge tank, and some of the Rays that had a lot of room to move.
All of the employees seemed very well informed about the animals they were around and they were more than willing to answer questions and share information. And Indeed I noted several employees that use wheelchairs. I was pleased about that because some places will hire wheelchair users and then hide them from the public, and that seems sort of unpleasant.
SO, yes, I’ll probably go back. The next time around I will pack some Clif bars, rather than pay for some middling quality food that was outrageously expensive. But I don’t think I’ll buy another ticket next year…I feel too much confusion about it already!