2017 Training Stats

Miles Completed = 29.01
(Run/Walked = 29.01, Biked = 0.0, Elliptical = 0.0)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Discovery Cove Trainer for a Day - September 7, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

The alarms went off at 6am and 6:10am this morning. I lounged around until 6:30am and then it was time to get up and get ready to go for the day.

I headed out to the car at 7:15am. It was a quick and easy drive to Discovery Cove. Parking is included in your admission and there were hardly any cars there yet so it was quick and easy to park.

I headed in to get checked in. Got my picture taken for my ID and setup charging so I didn't have to carry anything with me except my card. After all that was taken care of I headed over to sit down and wait for the trainer to show up.

A little after 8am two trainers showed up and we were split in to two groups. The trainer I was with was Bryan from New York. The other members of my group were Wendi (she was by herself too), Jacob (10), Jade (13) and Scott (the kids' Dad). Seems like it should be a pretty good group to be with.

Bryan took us out and we got in line to get our complimentary photo taken. I had a nice photographer that positioned me so that my background wouldn't be so boring since it was just me. I thought that was pretty nice of her!

Then we all headed over to have breakfast - which was included in your admission price. They had a variety of pastries, hot cereal, cold cereal, fruit, and breads. It was a basic continental type breakfast. I had some cereal, fruit and a couple of mini pastries. It was just perfect.

After a leisurely breakfast we headed out to get our wetsuits, snorkels and lockers. I was going to do a vest, but everyone was doing shorties and I decided that I'd prefer to do that to (it would help hide the red bumps on my legs if nothing else). We all grabbed lockers and then headed to the restrooms to get changed.

Once everyone was changed, put their stuff away, put sunscreen on, etc...We headed over to the aviaries. The aviaries here are quite fun - unless you don't like birds...Thankfully, I have two birds of my own so I am quite familiar with their antics :)! It was first thing in the morning so the birds were hungry. The Sun Conures were all over us and eating all the food they could get.

The second aviary has cockatiels, parakeets, parrotlets and other small birds.
Discovery Cove - Aviary

The third aviary has toucans, aricaris and other birds. We didn't spend much time in this aviary since it was time for us to head to our next adventure.

We headed backstage where we got to meet some new friends. First up was Tory a Black Palm Cockatoo - she's super sweet. We all had a chance to hold her. She's super calm and friendly and just gorgeous. Next up was a Three Banded Armadillo - very interesting critter. They are quite curious as they curl in to a ball and are all protected. They sleep during the day so not much in the way of activity from this one. Our last new friend was an ant-eater - not the great big one like I saw at Sea World, but one of the little ones that you see. They have these super long tongues and skinny little snouts. Fun to see and her favorite treat for the day was avocado - she slurped and licked it all up as fast as she could.

Staying backstage we then headed over to a couple of back pools. What would we meet there? How about two baby dolphins with their Moms. One of the babies was a month old and the other one was almost seven days old. Oh my gosh - they are so cute! Neither of these babies had been named or announced to the public yet so we couldn't take any pictures of them, but it was a true treat to see them up close. This summer saw seven new babies born at Discovery Cove alone.

Next we headed over to the fish house to see where the fish are stored and prepared for all the dolphins. This is also where they keep the records of what dolphin gets what food each day, how old they are, any comments on them, etc...

The morning is going very quickly. It is time for our first dolphin interaction. We headed over to Seahorse Cabana to get last minute rules and watch a conservation video. Then we head toward the dolphin lagoon. Bryan was very excited because we were going to work with Nate - one of his favorite dolphins. Nate is five years old and he is little because he's still maturing. As we get to meet him we find out that he is very sweet.

First we got to feel his tail - you can feel the heat from their tail after they've been active. It's pretty cool. We give his back a rub down and then his stomach. We got to see him do some behaviors - wave, jump and vocalize. Then it's time to give him kisses and hugs and get our pictures taken with him.
Discovery Cove KissDiscovery Cove HugDiscovery Cove Belly Rub

Each of us then gets to swim out to the deep water and have Nate bring us back to the shallow water. I'll never get tired of how powerful these animals really are. They pull you through the water with very little effort on their part. It's just an amazing feeling.
Discovery Cove Dolphin Tow 2Discovery Cove Dolphin Tow

All to soon our time with Nate comes to an end. While the regular dolphin interactions are done we get an extra photo session with two dolphins.
Discovery Cove Two Dolphins Picture

We all head out of the water and now it's time for lunch - again, this is included in your admission. They have a ton of choices for you to pick from - salads, fish, burgers, chicken, macaroni & cheese, fries, mashed potatoes, breads, desserts, fruits, soda, beer and water. I had Caesar salad, chicken with penne pasta and alfredo sauce, key lime pie and two bottled waters. The food was very good. We all sat together and had some great conversations. Scott, Jade and Jacob were over from Europe so it was interesting hearing about the kids' days and life overseas. A very enjoyable time!

After lunch we headed over to the coral reef area and this is where we got to meet Calypso the Nurse Shark. They've trained Calypso to come to come to a target. When she comes to the target she gets a reward - food! It took a couple of minutes for her to come to the target, but once she was there we got to step down and touch her - she is rather rough to the touch, but not hard like she looks. After everyone got a chance to touch her then we were given the chance to feed her. They have an incredible system they use where they blow air out and suction at the same time to get the food out and eat it all at once. I step down and you drop the food on her head and she grabs it - very cool indeed!
Dsicovery Cove Shark 2Discovery Cove Shark

The stingrays were next. I love the stingrays - they are one of my favorites. They remind me of wet Portobello mushrooms, but they are just cool! We headed over and got to feed them fish. The kids were a bit reluctant to feed them so I got to feed them lots of fish. It made me happy!
Discovery Cove Stingray

We were given the option to spend time on our own after this. Bryan offered to allow any of us that wanted to go with him a chance to go backstage again. Wendi, Jacob and I all decided to stay with Bryan. First we headed backstage to watch the dolphins that were in free time. It's cool to see them do what they want and most of the time they want to come and see what you are doing. Then we headed to the fish house and they were getting ready to feed the babies' Moms so we headed back to see the babies again.

While the Moms eat the babies just sort of cruise around and play. It's pretty cool to see. The babies have to learn how to gate - go through gates from one pool to another. It's not a natural behavior since there aren't gates in the wild. The Mom will go through the gate with the baby. If the baby doesn't go back through with Mom, she leaves the baby and tries to coax the baby to come through on their own. Eventually, if the baby doesn't come through, Mom will go back through and get the baby and take them through the gate. It was amazing to see this happening even with a baby as young as a week old.

We headed back up front to meet up with Scott and Jade and then it was time to get ready for interaction two. This time we head over to dolphin lagoon and are each fitted with a life jacket. Out in to the water we head. I was the first to do the double dolphin foot push. I headed out in to the deep water with Bryan. Then you lie on your stomach, keep your legs straight and your knees locked. Two dolphins come up behind you and you feel one dolphin touch each foot. Before you know it - you are flying through the water to the shallow. It is just like flying. The power is unbelievable. It's over way to fast!
Discovery Cove Foot PushDiscovery Cove Foot Push 2

While we wait for the others to finish their foot push we get to interact with another dolphin. Dottie was the dolphin we got to play with this time. We give them rub downs, hear more vocalizations, and feed them fish.

After everyone finished the foot push we had dolphin races. It was Wendi and I, Scott and Jade and Bryan and Jacob. My dolphin for this race was Capricorn. Capricorn is Nate's grandfather and he's huge! He's over 700 pounds and over 40 years old - amazing! The dolphin lays on its back and you put one hand on each side and lay on the dolphin. The dolphin then takes you from the deep to shallow water. This was new - I had never done this one before and it was a lot of fun.
Discovery Cove Dolphin Race

We all stood in the shallow water in a circle and then the dolphins were circling us like sharks with their dorsal fins out of the water. Then they had them go really fast - that was impressive. It was all we could do to stand there. As we were getting ready to get out we got to watch them doing some behaviors with other dolphins out in the deep water - they were doing a pole training exercise and it was amazing to see just how high these animals can lift their entire bodies out of the water.

Finally we had to get out of the water. Bryan took us over to choose our photos and say goodbye. It was such an awesome program (yes, I had done this one before as well) and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time - maybe even a little more. The people you are with make a big different to the experience and today's group was a lot of fun.

Photos at Discovery Cove are not cheap in any way and I can't resist but to buy them all. There are a ton of different packages and options and I just bought them all. I know, I know that's silly, but I can't ever choose.

We were all on our own to do whatever we wanted now. I decided to take a lap around the lazy river, then I headed over to the coral reef and went snorkeling. I enjoyed snorkeling all over the place. There's lots of fish to see and huge rays and there are shark and barracuda behind glass. All great things to see and I find snorkeling relaxing so it felt good.

After that I decided to head back to the locker room and change back in to my street clothes. I dropped off my wetsuit and snorkel, then it was time to shop! I bought some souvenirs. Money spent, I headed over to pick up my photos.

At 4:45pm I headed out of the park. It was a busy day and I definitely felt I got my money's worth. This was another very expensive program - I got 10% off and it was still around $400...Again, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love the dolphins and other animals you get to interact with so for me it's well worth it.

It was a quick drive back to Pop Century and by the time I got back to my room I was pretty much exhausted and I was beginning to get a migraine. I decided to lay down and ended up falling asleep until 8pm.

I got up and forced myself to go get some dinner. A double bacon cheeseburger was calling my name and it was good. The tie dye cheesecake was also great :).

I did some work and wrote in my journal about today’s adventures. At 11:35pm I decided it was about time to get some sleep.

I estimate that I walked around 10 miles today.

The weather today was beautiful and sunny.
The best thing today was playing with the dolphins and seeing the baby dolphins.
The worst thing today was getting a headache towards the end of the day.
The funniest thing today was Jacob, the ten year old in the program with me. He wants to be rich so he can have his own dolphin.
Today I tried dolphin races and the result was amazing and fun.
The most magical moment today was the trainer for a day program - it was truly great!


Chris said...

Wow, what a great experience! Definitely something to put on our list for when the kids get a bit older...and we're able to leave them behind! lol

They always get ya on the pictures, don't they? Yeesh..

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