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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sea World San Diego (Part II)

Welcome to part II of my Sea World San Diego experience. Here, we'll talk about the theme park's main event, Shamu the killer whale, which is worth the price of admission by itself.

Shamu's show is so popular that (s)he gets a stadium.

The Shamu Adventure, a show where killer whales do tricks, features attractive, fit women in wetsuits playing with killer animals. It may be the best show ever created. What other live entertainment -- besides professional wrestling -- involves hot women and the possibility of death?

One important thing to know is that Shamu is dead. She died in 1971 after only six years in captivity. Shamu -- in true corporate fashion -- is now a brand. The largest and most interesting killer whale on a given day in a given park is dubbed "Shamu" for the show. This website that chronicles killer whales in captivity notes that Shamu gave off a distress call on her first day in captivity, but other whales have survived much better in Sea Worlds (and other places) in recent times.

The show is spectacular. Something that weighs 3,000-12,000 lbs. should not be able to jump that high.

Killer whales, or orcas, are the second largest most widely distributed mammal on the Earth -- second to human beings.

The whales are trained to show off.

They are trained in acrobatics.

They also know how to take a bow. The show is included in the pretty high price of admission, but is well worth it. You'll have to get there at least 15 minutes early to get a decent seat, and beware of the labels on the sets: there is a "soak zone" where one could get pretty wet.

The best part of Sea World San Diego though is the Dining With Shamu buffet, where you pay $30 for OK food and an hour of time in close proximity with the whales. I did not have to use my zoom lens in for this photo; as long as you stay beyond the barrier provided you can get a good close look at the animals. The food isn't worth that much of course, but the chance to get up close -- without getting wet -- is a truly memorable experience.

Erin, above, was a big part of the Shamu Adventure and a guide during the lunch. She really has a cool job. I hope she likes it. She was cool enough to not lose points due to having the same name as an ex-girlfriend.

Each whale has a distinctive dorsal fin, which allows scientists to identify them as individuals. This is the combination of genetics (which make humans inherently look different) and lifestyle choices (depth and temperature of the water they live in, etc.).

Sea World rewards the whales with food and toys. What kind of toy can you give a killer whale? Here, they have one playing with a fire hose -- one of the few things an animal of this size can play with without decimating it. I think this is Beckie keeping the wale entertained.

The best part of the lunch comes after most people leave, when the whales swim around unmolested on the nearby pools.

If you'd like an idea of how big a killer whale is, look at it compared to the nearby people. I'd say nobody here is more than 15 feet away.

This is a truly fantastic time and Sea World is blessed with an impressive staff. I know it's quite a bit of money to get into the park, but this is worth it.

It's not all fun and games though, there is some serious marketing going on. I'll talk about that in my next post.

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