We got to the park around 9am today and it was fairly quiet. We wished a few members of staff a “happy new year” as we collected a map with the show times on.
We passed the flamingo’s who were already making lots of noise and headed to Turtle Point. It’s always so peaceful here and I love watching the turtles gently swim about for a while. The resident pelicans were preening themselves on the shore.
We then headed towards Stingray Lagoon where we fed them. You put your hand on the bottom of their pool with your palm facing up holding the food. The rays swim over the top of your hand and suck the food up. Two of the stingray here are 32 years old! I watch a lady doing a character drawing while DH takes some photos of the stingrays.
Dolphin Cove next. Now we see where everyone and their Granny have been hiding this morning! The queue for the fish to feed these guys was ENORMOUS….and the kiosk to buy the fish didn’t open for another 30 minutes!!! We’re just going to have to rely on our charm to attract the dolphins today! We will be back another day next week when it should be a lot quieter so we will feed them then. We got some attention from this guy which was cool.
We then wandered over to the underwater viewing area where one dolphin in particular was attracting a lot of attention. With a quick flip of his head, an air ring would appear as if by magic in front of him. For a while, the dolphin watches its creation from different angles before quickly pulling a smaller circle from the loop. He plays with it for a while and at one stage even passes it to another dolphin who bites it making loads of small bubbles that rise to the surface.
Blue Horizons is about to start in 5 minutes so we rush around to the theatre. DH spots a space on the end of a row half way up and rushes up the steps to it. I hurry behind him mumbling that we’ll never get both of our derrière’s on that amount of bench. We in fact do which both shocks and delights me …..until the kid behind us tells us that we are sitting in bird poop!
I love this show even though this one didn’t go according to plan. Marina fell off the dolphin rather ungracefully but she took it all in good spirit and laughed with the crowd when she resurfaced.
The last few minutes is my favourite when you get the parrots flying over you and the dolphins are jumping out of the water.
I nip to the restrooms to wash the ‘you know what’ from my jeans before we go visit the manatees. These creatures are adorable…..I always feel like I am watching them in slow motion as they glide through the water. I always feel so sad for the guys who have obviously been caught by the propellers on boats.
We head over by Journey To Atlantis. Never been on this ride and have no inclination to go on it….at all. What I do love is spending quarters to spray people as they pass when they think they are safe from any more water. I know, I have a devilish streak! I don’t like to get the kids who are enjoying being wet or the ‘macho’ guys who think they look good when wet. No. I go for the women who have spent time putting mascara on and doing their hair etc. (can’t believe I am admitting to this)
Anyway, after a lot of laughter and a lady saying she was coming to ‘get me’ it was time to go.
Along the pathway and we can already hear the seals. It’s like someone honking a horn that never ends. Love feeding these guys so we go and buy a couple of trays of fish each. I want to see if the seal who waves at you for food is still here….he is so crafty and obviously more intelligent than the others. Ouch!! An egret has just pinched a fish from my tray and catches my finger in the process. Most of the seals today don’t seem to be very hungry right now. They are either catching the fish and then playing with it (which looks great on my videos) or they are letting the fish just smack them in the face and slide into the water where the birds are diving for it. Then, a keeper appears with a bucket full of fish and they all suddenly become very hungry and are scrambling over each other to be fed. What was wrong with my fish you ungrateful creatures!!!
A Clyde and Seamore show is starting in about 40 minutes so we grab a snack and a drink before heading into the stadium. I always need to get seated here before the mime artist starts as being picked on by him a couple of years back was enough for me….but I love to see him interact with other unsuspecting visitors….in fact, I roar with laughter sometimes! Great show as always and they have changed some of the lines and have a couple of new bits in it too. I simply adore the walrus at the end.
It’s time for our shark experience. We head over the lake and wait by the polar bear statue at Wild Arctic. We weren’t there long when the gate opens and a member off staff asks if we are the ….. family. We are taken back to the same area where we got changed for the Marine Mammal Keeper last week. We go into an office with Julie who tells us all about the type of sharks we will be in the water with and she goes into some detail about their mannerisms and how they react to man.
We then go to get our wetsuits and shoes on. As usual when I am in a wetsuit, I can’t pass a mirror without stepping back in horror at the sight before me but, this time, I laugh at the reflection staring back at me!! Does this mean I’m getting too old to care?
I waddle back into the waiting room where DH is already waiting for me…..now, he knows better than to laugh at me.
We go outside and jump onto the back of a motorised buggy type thingamajig. I am so pleased that we are going through the park out of view from what would be the hysterical public.
We are here….the back entrance to the shark tunnel. I love it inside here. You get to see above the shark infested waters without any barriers at all. A guy who is already in the holding area of water goes through the helmets with us and lets us know what’s going to happen next. Another guy is on dry ground and tells us that we will be able to communicate with him at all times through a microphone inside the helmet. So, if we have any questions or need to be out of the water, he would be able to immediately respond. There would only be myself and DH in the cage.
My word!!!! These helmets are pretty heavy. I opted out of getting some sort of float to go on my shoulders which would take some of the weight because I thought “how heavy can it be” Let me tell you…..darn heavy. Apparently, they weigh 15 pounds but once you are in the water, they feel like 5 pounds.
I let DH be the first one to jump down into the tank….I’m kind like that. Now, it’s my turn. I was a bit weary before I jumped in because I know the water comes so far up into the helmets and I had a fear of the whole helmet filling up so I looked like I was in a goldfish bowl. I was of course fine. It took a minute to get used to the pressure and the weight of the helmet in the water and…..to realise that I was okay. The cage door closed behind me and we were ready. DH and I gave each other a thumbs up and turned to look out into the water. A shark passed inches from my face and I was hooked. I got so excited that I stood on tiptoes and remained this way until we got out of the cage. (I don’t know why I stand on tiptoe when I get excited so please don’t ask)
I can feel the cage start to move very slowly in the water. I am loving it. The sharks are obviously used to seeing humans with goldfish bowls on their heads so they take no notice of us. However, they do come really close and it’s great watching the glint in their eyes as they pass by.
We can just about make out the actual shark tunnel that you would normally walk through while fully clothed and feel real special to be on this side. As the cage moves along, we come to what would be the water you see the sharks and fish in when you eat at Sharks Underwater Grill. Now, we can see people at their tables waving at us so we wave back and give them the okay sign too.
The cage comes to a standstill halfway where the deepest area is and you stay here for 5 minutes before continuing on. I think if they played the theme tune to the Jaws movies right now, it would be great.
The sharks seem a lot bigger when you are so close to them, it is amazing. We can see sharks from all sides of the cage.
Before we know it, our time is up (you get about 30 minutes underwater) and we are back at the holding area. I am the first to get out. You really do need the hand that is offered to you as you get out of the tank. Back up out of the water, the helmet is so heavy again that I lower my body back into the waste high water to take the weight off me a little. It is then that the guy on the end of the helping hand says to me…..” I just need to let you know that by some million to one chance, a shark has got into the holding area and is currently about two feet away from your legs” That was it…..my eyes pinged as open as they would go and I was on tip toe again! This was amazing. I was loving it.
After we got changed, we were given a book on sharks and a t/shirt. One thing I will say….SW could do with getting a hairdryer for the guests when they are finished here.
PART TWO FOLLOWS IMMEDIATELY BELOW ..........