Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Gulfarium Ocean Adventures

Just across the bridge from Destin, you can visit the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. It's smaller and far more personal than a big place like Sea World. All these dolphins were bred in captivity and wouldn't be able to survive on their own in the wild. When we got home, I took 438 photos off my camera, thanks to the wonders of burst mode. After the first round of editing, I had it down to 247, a more manageable number. Now the hard part is deciding how many of them to feature in this blog post!
The trainers use hand signals to train the dolphins for desired behavior. It may be as simple as touching the trainer's hand with their snout, or calmly putting their tail up for the trainer to draw blood. Of course, each behavior must be solicited in baby steps since there is no good method of communication between the species.
The response is rewarded with a fish, of course. At the end of the day, I decided that the dolphins are actually training the people  using different signals to get them to give a fish! Look at those teeth! They have 80 - 100 cone shaped teeth. Don't want them to grab me.
We have seen quite a few wild dolphins already this trip and probably won't take a boat trip to find more. You aren't supposed to get closer than 50 yards to them, but of course, people don't always pay any attention to distance. I was amazed that they came right into the mouth of the harbor. You would think the boat motor sounds would bother them. There's a real risk of learning to be beggars from people instead of hunting on their own.
 I would think they have a problem with boredom, living in a relatively small tank all their lives. The training and shows probably help keep them from going crazy.
Any time there is a chance of free fish, the laughing gulls hang around looking for handouts.
I was fascinated watching a young White Pelican trying to get a fish out of a feeding container. Just imagine trying to pick up a whole fish with chopsticks! He had a hard time trying to get a grip on his lunch. Normally, White Pelicans catch their fish while swimming in the water, and just open their mouths around it then swallow. What a problem this will be!
Oops! Dropped it on the ground. Still can't just throw it in the air and swallow it down. White Pelicans don't eat that way.
OK, let's get in the water and clean the dirt off.
Ah, now he can grab it properly in the water using his big expandable mouth and throat.
 You can just see it sliding down his translucent gullet. Yummy!
Thinking the Pelican was finished, an opportunistic gull snuck up to grab a bite of fish for himself. Get away from there, you moocher! Ever been chased by the huge wings of a Pelican? This gull has and knew to make a fast getaway.
An afternoon walk on the beach completed our day, and our 10,000+ step goal. Have you ever noticed how birds on the sand all face the same direction, usually facing into the wind? Among cows, this practice lets them all run in the same direction without trampling each other if something attacks. However, one Sandwich Tern was attracted by something over his shoulder.
The clouds are coming in and the ocean looked silver instead of green. This sailor didn't mind, nor did the gull flying off in the distance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a memorable day