I’m going to set the matter straight away before I go any further. This is NOT going to turn in to a debate of whether or not these beings should be in captivity. This is a memory, do not tarnish it. If you really feel the need to know my opinion, ask, in a nice manner, I may tell. I respect your opinion, but please do not go telling people what they should think. Research, experience, then make your own mind up. Thank you.
This week, my cousins are sunning it up in Tenerife the lucky devils, and yesterday they went to Loro Parque, and throughout the day on my request, I was sent photos and videos of the sealions, dolphins and Orcas. I couldn’t decide whether I was loving the updates, or just plain torturing myself as I wasn’t there but so dearly wanted to. Anyway, you probably all know that I love, love, love Orcas. Always have done, and I’m sure I always will. They are my favourite ever animals, for so many reasons. If you don’t know what I am talking about then please go and google. I’ve decided for todays throwback blog I am going to tell you all about the time my heart exploded as I saw Orcas in the flesh for the first time.
It was 2005. November to be exact. The Christmas before our parents had surprised us with the trip to Florida, we had a little envelope with photos of the places we’d be visiting, and of course I’m sure I was almost crying when I held the tiny piece with Sea World on it. It seemed like a lifetime to wait until the day we flew out. I’d never been long haul before, and am a nervous flier, but knowing what was waiting for me the other end helped so much. I remember it actually took me a few days to realise I wasn’t dreaming and that it was a reality. Everything is a bit fuzzy now, I can’t even remember how many days we spent at Sea World. I’d of happily spent the whole trip there. If you’ve never been to a theme park then you won’t quite understand the atmosphere of them. I was there for the animals, I don’t like roller coasters or most rides. I was there for the orcas. Shamu. I was giddy with excitement the first day we went. I couldn’t quite believe that I’d actually be seeing one.
At Sea World, you can either see the Orcas during a show, which was The Shamu Adventure at the time, in the underwater viewing area, or by doing Dine With Shamu. Naturally we did all of them.
Walking in to the stadium, it’s sheer immense size, you’re looking down on to the pool. We chose seats close but not too close. (Mum or Dad may remember how many rows back!) It was still in the “Splash Zone” but my parents did not believe we’d get wet so far away from the water. I did try to warn them but it fell on deaf ears. Then I heard the ‘pff’ of an orca surfacing. My head whipped round, and there just in front of us was this black and white creature, so smooth looking, gliding through the water. I’m sure I cried. It was everything and more to be in their presence. I’d studied this particular group of whales, and vaguely knew how to ID them, but that pretty much went out of my head with just a few facts stuck in my mind. I also only had a disposable camera at that stage in my life, but I took some photos, not very good mind. I can only find a few of them, but will share what I took, and shall update the post if I find the lost ones.
Photo: Preshow, who was watching who?
The show was amazing, personally I think it was better than ‘Believe’ which it had changed to before my next trips in ’07 and ’09. I remember there being a kayak involved, and a lot of facts and waterworks. If you don’t know, waterworks are where the trainer performs in the water with the whales, a practice that now doesn’t exist due to health and safety.
Photo: I used to remember what this was called, but it’s impressive to see nonetheless.
It got to the splashing part of the show, and the big guns came out. Tilikum. I’m sure many of you know of his name, he drew a lot of media attention before his death this year. My heart still aches that I won’t ever get to see him again. He was the king. 22.5 foot long, 12,500lb in weight. He was spectacular to see perform, pure muscle. So when he came, and you were suddenly faced with his flukes (tail) about to send a ton of water towards your way, you knew you had no escape. My parents faces. The look of realization, they were about to be drenched, I was right. I’ll never forget it, it was hilarious. Sadly, as I hid my camera I didn’t get any photos of him myself that year. Following years I did, although I did a lot of filming as well, but I shall share with you another time if you’re interested.
Photo: Takara, Kohana and Skyla. Takara was pregnant with who turned out to be my favourite little (not so little now!) orca ever, Trua, who happened to be born the day before or after we flew home! Typical. (I can’t remember what day we flew home) It made meeting, and interacting with him, in 2007 even more special though.
Photo: Kohana on the slide out. She is one of the orcas that my cousin is seeing in Tenerife!
Photo: A few more of the snaps I got while I was there. They’re very special memories to me. I just wish I could go back with my DSLR now!
We also got treated to Dine With Shamu. I shall have to go and raid my Mums computer for some photos really, as you can see the pure joy and excitement in my face. I barely took my eyes of the whales. Basically you get delicious buffet food and then the trainers perform an up close little show. This does cost extra, but it is well worth it in my eyes! Or at least it used to be, don’t count me on that for now! It was definitely a cool experience, and the food was really yummy too! Afterwards, at the end the trainers come round and you can meet them, have your photos taken and have a chat.
From the same pool that they do Dine With Shamu in is where the underwater viewing is located. I would honestly love to sit in there all day. My cousin and I actually did spend a large proportion of one of our days in there in 2007. In 2005 however we didn’t see as many of the whales in their as we liked. Obviously they have freewill and have a choice of pools to go in. We did see Tilikum and Taima though. Taima was gorgeous. She was also pregnant at the time, and didn’t want to play at the glass, but to just watch her swim, for her to be gliding past just the other side of the glass was enough. When you are that close you can really respect them, they are huge, powerful. Again, I need to raid my mums computer for photos!
Photo: Taima swimming past. Another whale I can’t believe is gone. She died giving birth, and I remember just after I gave birth to Logan I was thinking (and may have asked out loud) that I hoped Taima didn’t die in the pain that I just experienced.
So there you have it. It was probably all just a babble, I just love Orcas so much, particularly the ones who I have seen with my own two eyes. You just can’t describe their presence, or their true immense size and power to someone who hasn’t seen them. They’re so, so amazing. I’d love to see them in the wild. When I went whale watching in ’06 the trips before and after us saw them, but we weren’t so lucky! Maybe one day I will. I also hope to one day get back to Orlando, or at least see some in one of the closer locations.