Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sea Life Park

This year, instead of a big birthday party, we decided to do something special with Crumpet. We took him to Sea Life Park, here on Oahu. This is like a mini Seaworld, and we had a lot of fun!
Sea Life Park is small, but if you plan well, you can get a lot out of it. There are several animal shows, and a lot of activities which give you a chance to interact with the animals. We got there when the park opened and stayed busy all day.
The first thing we did was feed the sea lions.
Crumpet was going to do this, and I was going to help, but when he saw the huge bucket of whole, dead fish, my vegetarian boy disappeared! It was pretty gross, but the sea lions were so much fun. They swallow the fish whole - you just drop it and it slides down into the void...
My sea lion was Koa, and he was a pretty good begger!
The park puts on one of the most creative sea lion shows I've ever seen. Lots of fun!
There was a good little touch pool. We touched crabs and starfish and urchins. The best part was this though:
A baby green sea turtle. Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever seen?? Normally, you may not touch these animals at all because they are endangered, but this is a special program so it's ok.
There is also a big pool of adult sea turtles which you can feed, but we missed the feeding time...
Because we were in the pool with these:
In the bottom right of the picture is a stingray, and there were also lots of beautiful tropical fish. Crumpet's favorite animal on earth is the stingray, so that's why we chose this park for his birthday. You can get in the water and snorkel or swim with them, as well as pet them. There were 8 juveniles in the pool, and they are 'in training'. The trainers get them to swim by in loops and we got to pet them. They are so soft! We could also feed them (again, gross dead stuff, so Crumpet wanted no part of that!). We could feed lettuce to the tropical fish, too, and Crumpet loved that. You can't see the fish in the picture below, but that's what he's doing:
Crumpet doesn't snorkel, so this was the first time he got to be so close to the tropical fish of Hawaii. We were the only family at this feeding event, so they let us stay a lot longer than the allotted time, and were really good with Crumpet.
The park is in a beautiful setting. Here is the sting ray pool:
Not bad, eh? There is a fun kid's climbing area, for when little people need to decompress after too much interaction. Crumpet loved practicing karate on the punching bags:
We saw people in SNUBA gear in the big tank. It looked like fun!
The big attraction here is the dolphins. They put on a good show! During the show, a trainer rides on a dolphin's back... because you can swim with dolphins too!
They have several different dolphin programs. We chose the beginner program so that Crumpet could go with us (and because I'm a bit of a chicken about standing up on a speeding animal in the water!). We got to get in the water and kiss the dolphin, and dance with her. I was concerned that this would be one big photo op where we didn't really get much time with the dolphin. It turned out to be lots of fun though, and we got to pet her all over, as well as see some of her tricks up close. Crumpet was a bit nervous about this activity - the dolphin was big, and he couldn't touch the ground. He had a life vest, and we held him, but he was still a little worried. I, on the other hand, had a blast. This was a pretty cool experience for an animal nut like me!
Our dolphin was actually the world's only (supposedly) 'wholphin'. Her mother was a dolphin, and her father was a false killer whale. They were alone together in a tank, and one day, the dolphin was pregnant... The wholphin looked mostly like a dolphin, but her teeth and mouth were somewhat different.
If you are ok with spending lots of money, and you want a day of once-in-a-lifetime animal interactions, I definitely recommend Sea Life Park!