The next day, we grabbed some breakfast and headed for Sea Lion, Walrus and Otter Stadium. We started by doing breakout. Breakout is basically when you weigh out the animals' food for the day. Using the whiteboard that details how much of each type of fish each animal gets, we grabbed buckets and began filling them with the requisite amount of fish until everything was ready. After we finished that, we completely scrubbed down the food prep area, washing the walls, floors, scales, shelves, doors, sinks, and anything else that we could find. Then it was time to watch the trainers weigh the animals, as they do a few times a week. The trainers let us be the ones to record the weight of each animal. All the sea lions, walruses, and otters each took a turn getting weighed. After they were finished, we went to one of the Asian small-clawed otter holding areas and set up a sort of "otter playground" for them, putting out their toys and hiding bits of capelin snacks for them to find. Next, we headed out to the stage, and one of the otters ran around while we took some pictures. We went backstage again, and posed for a picture with Spanky, a California Sea Lion. After lunch, we reviewed training principles and took notes for the test. We headed back to the park to see the Clydesdales, but only a few were there since they were out on tour. So, we went to the Marine Mammal Community Pool - aka the dolphin-petting pool!! We played with them for a long time, playing "splash me" and "peek-a-boo." We alsoo ran around the pool, and some of the dolphins would chase us. After we were finnaly dragged away from the bottlenose dolphins, we went back to the dorm for cleaning - the group was Sea Lion, Walrus and Otter Stadium always cleaned the dorm. We had the rest of the afternoon to hang out around the dorm, then we headed out to Jason's Deli for dinner. After that, we played a great game called TV Tuneage, then headed back to the dorms for free time and bed.
The next day, we got to sleep in a bit before we headed out to the aquarium. We took a tour of the "gallery" or the exhibits, then headed out to aquarium holding, outside the park. There was a baby dolphin there, just born the night before! The mother's name is Yo-Yo. But since it wasn't our Animal Care day, we didn't really get to go see them. We headed over to the shark pool, and we got to pet the whitetip reef sharks. Then we stopped to see LK16, the Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle. We fed the stingrays and petted them for awhile, then scooped a bunch of shark teeth out of the quarantine tank to bring home as souvenirs. After eating lunch, we got buckets and fed the fish in the big coral reef exhibit. We did what's called a "broadcast feed" where bits of food are tossed into the pool in big handfuls. Then we headed to the shark exhibit and fed the nurse sharks with tongs, and did a broadcast feed with the other sharks. The hammerheads kept popping out of the water, scaring the crap out of us! After scrubbing the buckets, we headed back to the dorm for the afternoon. We went to Fuddruckers for dinner, then came back and played a volleyball mini-tournament. Our team came in second! We did our review for the day, then had free time and bed.
We had to get up EARLY the next day - 5:30 AM! We got to the Animal Care food prep area, and did a huge breakout. We weighed out over 1,000 lbs. of fish in under an hour! It was well worth the work, though! We brought the food to the sea lion community pool and fed out buckets full of food to them. Then we headed for the Marine Mammal Community Pool. We sat on a ledge and put our feet in the water. The dolphins gathered around, and we tossed fish to them while the Animal Care staff looked on. The dolphins really loved our boots and greens (waders)!!! They kept trying to bite the pantleg of our greens, but since we weren't supposed to let them do that, they resorted to trickery. One dolphin would come up to me and lay on its side, and while I petted them, I was blissfully unaware of the other dolphin sneaking in from the side to nip at my greens. When we finished there, we headed back to the sea lions and harbor seals and fed them again. Then we got to see Yo-Yo and her baby - how adorable!! We also saw Starbuck and Clicker in holding. Starbuck was one of the dolphins in the movie Jaws 3. We went back to the Marine Mammal Community Pool to feed the dolphins once more, then headed for lunch. After lunch, we fed the seals and sea lions again. A camera man was there taping us for the PR Department. We stopped to see the otters and the Hawaiian monk seals. The monk seals are all blind, except for two of them, due to what is possibly a virus. In holding, we saw Big Bob, a California sea lion taken from the Ballard Locks in Seattle. He was humungous!! We toured the lab there, then went back to the Marine Mammal Community Pool and fed the dolphins again, being video taped by PR. We watched the monk seals get fed, then headed back to the dorms for review and free time. After dinner, we had a talk about sea turtles from one of the counselors who worked on a conservation program in Central America. We had free time in the dorms, then bed.
Our fourth day in the park, we headed for the Aviculture department. We went to the bird house, where the staff was finishing the morning food prep. We met Killer, a golden conure, who is ironically the nicest bird in the entire park. We got some breakfast from the cafeteria and took it with us to the large aviary in the park, and learned about the birds there while we ate. After we finished eating, we fed the birds there, then went over to the lorikeets. We got nectar cups and walked into the enclosure, and we were suddenly swarmed by birds! It was soooo fun. They did like to bite people's ears, though, and screech in our ears. After we finished feeding them their cups of nectar and putting out fruit, we then headed for "polar", or the Penguin Encounter. There, we shoveled out the piles of "snow" from the snow machines that had fallen overnight. We set out food trays for the penguins, then gave them some time to eat while we drank hot chocolate and talked about the penguins. We discussed the different species of penguins, and which ones we should leave alone and which ones we could play with. Then came the fun part - playtime!! We went into the exhibit and sat down, and the birds would come right up to us!! The juvenile rockhoppers in particular were very playful - they loved to climb into our laps and chew on our gloves. The aviculturists also let the king penguin chicks out of their pen, and one of them even came up and snuggled in my lap! We finally had to leave, and we washed the food prep area and changed out of our sweats. We ate some lunch, then headed back to the bird house to get food for the birds. We fed the birds in the African exhbit, which were mostly Lesser Flamingoes. We waded around the exhibit a bit - the water was really warm! We headed over to the aviary again, and fed the birds there. When we went back to the bird house to wash the pans, we ended up getting into a huge waterfight! That was really awesome, especially considering the temperature was over 100 degrees. After returning to the dorms, we had free time and dinner. After dinner, we had a lecture from one of the Animal Care people, who talked about the Hawaiian monk seals, where they came from, why they were brought to SeaWorld, why they think they're blind, etc. Then, after I had suggested it earlier in the day, we went to Shamu's Happy Harbor!! It was a blast - imagine 45 high school students swarming over the huge play area normally reserved for young children. We gave all our leftover pizza to water quality, and so they turned on the water to the water toys for us, too. I think we all regressed to kindergarten then, even the counselors.
Our last day behind the scenes was the one I had been waiting for anxiously - Shamu Stadium and White Whale and Dolphin Stadium!! We got to Shamu Stadium at 7:30, and I don't remember much of it cause I was so hooked on gaping at the killer whales. We did breakout for the whales, Keet, Kyuquet (Ky), and Haida. Breaking out the salmon was a blast, because they had to be cut open and checked for hooks. That was really fun, in a sick, goopy-fish-innard way (if I remember correctly, the trainers were arguing over who got to do it!). After that, we headed out to do a walkthrough of the stadium and made sure that nothing was broken and that the area was clear of trash. Then we got a clipboard and marked down killer whale respirations, noting how many times each whale took a breath in a five minute period. This was part of their husbandy program, making sure that the whales are kept healthy. Observation is one of their best tools for determining if anything is wrong. We left Shamu Stadium and headed over to White Whale and Dolphin Stadium, where we were to work with the belugas and pacific white sided dolphins (also known as "lags" from their scientific name, Lagenorhyncus obliquidens). They were performing sonograms on the pregnant animals when we got there, so we watched that. I tell ya, trying to find a dolphin fetus on a sonogram is like looking at a "Where's Waldo" book! Luckily, I was picked to hold the head of one of the belugas, Sikku, while they sonogrammed her! She wasn't very happy about it, though, she kept trying to get free and nip me. After that, we each got a picture of us getting kissed by a beluga whale! That was an incredible feeling! We stopped at the main tank, where there was a two week old pacific white-sided dolphin, and one that was only a few days old! We took a long lunch, then headed back to Shamu Stadium. They were rehearshing the show Shamu's Splashin' Sensation, so we got a private showing and perfect seats! When they had finished, we took the buckets back to the food prep area and scrubbed them down, and one of the trainers grabbed a hose and totally soaked us! Then, since it was one trainer's last day, they picked her up and threw her in the med pool. :) That was hilarious! She went in kicking and screaming, literally - that water is 55 degrees! The vets showed up to sonogram Haida, so while they did that we got our pictures taken petting Keet's dorsal! That was the first time I'd ever touched a killer whale, and let me tell you, it's something I will NEVER forget, as long as I live. We also had a group picture taken with one of the whales, and a posed publicity photo. We picked up a box of fish from the giant freezer for the tainers, then said goodbye and headed back to the dorm. After a shower, we went out for Chinese food, and ended up being joined by Chuck, one of the trainers at White Whale and Dolphin Stadium (Chuck is an awesome, awesome guy!). When we came back, we had a scavenger hunt in the park. Now THAT was exercise! We were running back and forth across the park for an hour, sprinting into stadiums to get objects like a killer whale vitamin or a dolphin toy. After that came the "dreaded" test - which really was nothing to be afraid of! I'd studied some beforehand and over dinner. It was mostly multiple choice and true/false questions. I finished in half the time allotted, and they even let us use notes the last ten minutes.
The last day is one that has since been removed, but I really enjoyed it. It was "Park Day." After taking a photo of all the campers (which was later sent to us with our test/evaluation scores) we broke into groups and headed into the park. Basically, we got to just play in the park for the day. We played with the dolphins a bit (while the public looked on jealously from a distance since the park wasn't open yet), then headed to the sea lion show, Fools With Tools. Throughout the day, we also went on the roller coasters (the Steel Eel and the Great White; the Great White is an exact copy of Busch Gardens' Alpengeist, just compacted), saw the sea lion show again, went on the Rio Loco (a whitewater raft type ride), got pictures of us "sitting on Shamu" at the photo booth, saw the dolphin show Symphony of the Sea, saw the bird show, the waterski show, and the kilelr whale show, and of course plenty of shopping. I really enjoyed this day, I was bummed when I came back the next year and they'd dropped it. The next day was time to go home, so that was pretty much the and of my first year at Careers Camp.
On to Advanced Careers Camp 2000
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