Everyone has a bucket list of things they want to do in life. I have some of my own. The last few years Crystal has been talking about going to SeaWorld for her birthday to swim with the Beluga Whales. That was high on her bucket list! The last couple of years, Glen Ivy has had an offer where you get in free for your birthday so we have gone there. This year they didn't offer that, and Crystal wanted to finally get to SeaWorld. So, being the awesome best friend I am I agreed to go. I LOVE SeaWorld so it's not like she had to twist my arm! I debated on doing the interaction with Crystal, one because it's expensive and two, because I wanted to take pictures of her doing it. But when it was time to book it I made the decision to just do it! And I am so glad I did. We arrived at SeaWorld with about an hour to spare before our "interaction". We spent some time down watching the Beluga whales swim around under water in their tank. I can't even tell you the feeling that came over me when we were standing at the glass. The Beluga Whale seemed so BIG behind the glass. All I could picture was it taking me deep down into that deep tank and drowning me. haha. I don't even know why I got freaked out but they looked really big and it scared me! BUT, I was not going to let that stop me. (Plus, I already paid for it)
We got to the check point of where we needed to meet like 30 minutes before we had to be there. We were excited! And by We, I mean Crystal was. I was still kinda freaking out inside.
We got to go behind the scenes and see this lady. She was pretty big. We got to feed her a fish and then she kissed our hand. That was pretty cool!
Behind some glass and lots of gates, we did get to watch this Polar bear for a bit. He was a big guy. It was crazy to hear the trainers tell us how they are not allowed to interact with the Polar Bear. I just assumed they did. But they also have to be behind gates to interact with them. Apparently Polar Bears are really smart. The trainers are always trying to come up with new ways of keeping them entertained. They are always finding new "toy's" for them to play with and the second they put them in there with the bears, they tear them apart. It was interesting to hear more about Polar Bears. They are beautiful animals!
Then it came time to get down to business! There were 5 people in our group. They had our own little locker rooms for us to get ready in. Labeled with our names and all. I was excited to see that Crystal's was on a Beluga Whale!
We each had our own wetsuit and boots to put on. FYI - wearing a wetsuit is NOT all that fun or comfortable by any means! Warm, yes.
We were suited up and ready to go!
We got to the tank and in we went! Crystal and I followed our trainer into the
cold FREEZING water. We stood and listened to directions as about 50 onlookers watched our every move. The tank was open to anyone who wanted to stop and watch. Crystal was so excited to get her hands on one. I was not. They did tell us that the whales are way more scared of us and if we moved to fast they would be scared and swim away. That made me feel better. As soon as the whale swam up to us I forgot about how cold the water was or that I felt like a fish in a fish bowl being watched and video taped by tons of park guests. They didn't have their camera people there for about the first ten minutes of our interaction with the male. He is the BIG all white one in the pictures below. First the male (Nanuck) came over and let us touch him and get used to him. They felt amazing! I have touched dolphins before and they felt completely different! These guys felt like a memory foam pillow. They felt amazing!
This is Ruby
This is the moment Crystal had been waiting for! A kiss from Nanuck, a Beluga Whale! Check!
She was so comfortable just hanging out with them.
I, on the other hand... not so much, but it was fun and they are such cool animals who are always smiling! Really, look how cute they are.
We got to do some tricks with them.
Overall, they were beautiful animals and the interaction was pretty amazing! I was so glad to be in the water with Crystal and be part of something she's always wanted to do! That's what best friends are for! We were in the water for about 25 minutes or so. We got to visit with both of the whales. I like the male better, I just felt more comfortable around him. Although he was a LOT bigger than the female. The trainers were awesome and taught us so much about them. I felt like I worked at SeaWorld for a minute there. (That has always been my dream as a child)
After our interaction was over we walked through the pools in the back where they kept the baby, Pearl, and the other two Beluga Whales they had there. (Didn't have my camera). Pearl is 3 years old and is gray! They don't turn white until they are about 7 years old. They look a lot like dolphins that small and gray at that age. We did get to see her swim around with her parents in the big tank before we went in. She was very cute!
We spent the rest of the day walking around SeaWorld doing all of the things Crystal wanted to do. Neither of us had ever been on the sky buckets so we figured we would give it a try. It was a little scary when you first go up and fly through the sky, but it was a great place to see the bay and was a beautiful ride. I don't think either of us let go of the bar the entire time.
Last but not least Crystal had to feed and pet the bat rays! They were slimy and felt like boogers!
I am so happy that Crystal let me spend the day with her and I got a chance to interact with the Beluga's. It certainly made her day! She will be back to do it again I'm sure. I will video tape next time and let Alana get in with them!