Dolphins Take Over at Sea Life Park!

Sign at entrance to Sea Life ParkSea Life Park is one of Hawaii’s star visitor attractions. Everyone loves the wildlife from the sea! It had been years since the last time I was there. As much as I hate to admit it, I have to say that when we visited the Park about a year ago, I left the Park just a little disappointed.

The shows were very much geared to the visiting tourists, which is to be expected, but even more so to the little kids. Are those things important? Yes, of course they are! But the bulk of the crowd, while tourists, were at an age where a little more educational brain stimulation could have been thrown in and was definitely in order!

Sea Life Park has changed things a bit since then and they have added things to the park that were never there before. These additions may be because they were purchased not too long ago by Dolphin Discovery, an organization that has six different ocean parks across the country, one of which is now Sea Life Park.

NOTE: Before I continue I need to point out that the trainers will NEVER reprimand or punish these animals in any way. These are wild animals and they are given all of the respect that they are due. So, when a trick doesn’t work, you try it again. If the show fails, you move on and try to work on it for the next time.

Dolphin dances across the water

Continuing on, out of all the marine animals I think dolphins are the biggest crowd pleasers. They can dance across the pool for us…

Three dolphins showing off

…they can leap into the air to please an audience (or just because they want some free fish for doing, on cue, what comes naturally). I swear, Sea Life Park has the best back drop for photo taking!

Dolphin foot push, I like toss better

They can also toss you across the pool if you ask them to!

But, you know, the best pictures and the funniest videos are taken when kids or pets are misbehaving. When the atmosphere is charged with excitement and expectation, these charming creatures catch the excitement bug too! After all, it’s THEIR show! They ARE the show! Well, they took over and stole the show from the trainers one day while we were there on a return visit.

Kids are always the most naughty when they’re together and want to play. Apparently the dolphins are the same way! By being rascals and flipping a fin or two at the trainers they decided to not let themselves be separated from the next group of performers but to join them instead! While the trainers kept trying to separate them, the show host / announcer found himself in the position of educating the crowd and even taking questions to stall for time.

Five dolphins showing off

Great! So everybody gets into the act. Crowd involvement and spectator engagement! What a novel idea! I think it works better to have these attention seekers shock the crowd while having a conversation with the audience instead of just talking at them. These rascals were obeying the commands to get their fish, they just didn’t want to be separated — no way, no how! Not one, not two and not even three — five of these aquatic brats in the air at once!

After the show was over I couldn’t wait to talk to the young trainers (who were about to be reprimanded) and tell them that it was the best show I had seen and to let them know that, “the next time the dolphins decide to misbehave, I’m there!” I also thanked them for sharing some knowledge with us this time and we let them how much better it was this time than it had been a year or so before.

Their supervisor person (or possibly their professor since the trainers may have been graduate students in oceanography or something) then said to them, “See, after all the work you’ve been doing…” Ahem.

Kekaimalu performing for the crowd

Aside from all that, there is the wolphin, Kekaimalu. She is half bottle nose dolphin and half false killer whale and she pulls characteristics from both sides. Her weight is in between that of a bottle nose and a false killer whale, her color is a nice charcoal-gray combination of the dolphin’s gray and the false killer whale’s black. Even Kekaimalu’s tooth count is in the middle. Bottle nose dolphins have 88 teeth while false killer whales have 44; Kekaimalu has 66 teeth! Even her facial features are a clear combination of the bottle nose of the dolphin and the rounder, less-protruding profile of the false killer whale. Kekaimalu is also, if I’m not mistaken, the middle culprit in our photo of five rascals above. She may have been the ring leader for all I know!

Wolphin and parents, from Wikipedia

Kekaimalu was not supposed to be born. The photo above was “borrowed” from Wikipedia and shows Kekaimalu as a youngster with her parents. She is also not supposed to be able to reproduce. Surprise! Kekaimalu has had three babies. Only one is still living but that surviving daughter and Kekaimalu both live at Sea Life Park and are the only wolphins in captivity. Kekaimalu is 21 years old this year. Hopefully she will live the normal lifespan of the bottle nose which is between 40 and 50 years.

I found an interesting tidbit of information while I was doing a little research about these guys. Even though dolphins are surrounded by water the salt-water environment of the ocean is more like a desert for them. They can’t drink that salt water because their bodies would use even more water trying to desalinate what they drink. Their water comes from the foods they eat and from the internal process of metabolizing fat. So, even though Kekaimalu is now 21 and can now drink legally, it would only dehydrate her if she tried.

There are several more animal attractions at Sea Life Park but the dolphins did so well that day that they deserve all the glory in this post. We will talk about Sea Life Park and its other residents again soon, I promise! Thank you, Sea Life Park, for the improvements and for a great show, and thank you, Kekaimalu and the gang, for all of these Kodak moments!

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 dan // Jul 23, 2007 at 7:51 am

    the title of this post got me thinking that dolphins were now taking over a sea zoo and having humans do tricks in tanks for other dolphins to enjoy.

    bah! perhaps one day.

  • 2 Evelyn // Jul 23, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Hi Dan! Well at least I got your attention! That would be a kick. Great idea for one of those satirical cartoons in a magazine or newspaper.

    If you think about it, they sort of did get the humans to cater to their demands… I love it! Thank you for the comment, Dan. I hope you will visit often!

  • 3 M.R. Field // Jul 24, 2007 at 8:56 am

    Dan, that reminds me of a photo shoot I did mid-Winter at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium. It was part of my seasonal environmental photography project (the Mia Rosa Photos part of http://www.mrfcomm.com, for the business plug). Mid-autumn the animals were tired out by gaggles of students tearing through the zoo on a field trip. Mid-spring the sparrows and other non-caged birds and animals were very active as they prepared and protected nests. Mid-summer the animals were acting as though it was summer. Mid-winter, however, there were only a few humans at the zoo and the animals were intrigued. A tiger followed me with eyes, as though I could be prey. The most intrigued though was an otter. He (or she?) ran up to the divider, clawing away, stretching upwards, wanting to find out who this person was that came to entertain him.

    Evelyn, I’m with you. Give me that wild spirited animal that ignores the routine. When I visited Sea World, or whatever it is in Florida, years ago, the dolphin or whatever was doing the routine before the signals could be given. It made me sadder more than it delighted me.

  • 4 Evelyn // Jul 24, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Giggle on the otter story, Rose! And that tiger probably would have tracked you as prey if he could have… if you watch the National Geographic channel it would make you glad he couldn’t! 🙂 If it makes you feel any better about our performers, I don’t know about Florida, but Sea Life Park spoils these guys rotten! They only do one show a day and all other interactions are closely monitored. They’re also fat and sassy! Obviously! 🙂

  • 5 Homespun Honolulu » Sea Life at the Park // Aug 25, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    […] discussed Seal Life Park’s fun-loving dolphins in this previous post and we left the rest of the park out of the discussion. The dolphins were so much the star […]

  • 6 Great Hike, Not Crowded. Makapuu Lighthouse | FreeActivities.org // Nov 8, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    […] Well off the beaten path on the eastern edge of Oahu is a one hour hike that is a thigh burner but rewards you with amazing panoramic views from the top. If you didn’t see the cars parked at the base of this foothill, you wouldn’t even know there was a hiking trail there. You hike a paved road all the way to the top, so even thought it’s not well maintained, it’s a smooth easy way to get up to the summit. This trail overlooks prime whale grounds, so November through January you can see them spouting off in the distance, even if they are many miles away. There are many great places you can stop and take a picture along the way, but the best views are from the crows nest at the very top of the mountain. From there you can see all along the eastern coastline, as well as a birds eye view of Sea Life Park. […]

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