Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sea Camp 2012 Day 3 - Sea World and Kayaking

Sea Camp 2012 Day 3 Group B

Kayaking, Plankton Lab, and Sea World

The fog that blanketed the coast on our Monday arrive was a faint memory as the glowing sliver of new moon faded into the orange red sunrise over the distant eastern hills and mountains of Southern California. It may read October 17th on the calendar, but heat haze lifting off of the asphalt made it feel more like August 17th.    For group B most of the Marquee Sea Camp activities were either ahead of behind us so the mood among the students was one of relaxed anticipation.  Who needs snorkeling, boogie boarding, or dissection labs when you have kayaking, plankton lab, and Sea World on the docket? 

In years past, Kayaking mostly filled the space in between the plankton lab and the departure for Sea World.  This year the activity took center stage in the morning schedule.  Everyone made it on to their red hard plastic double kayaks without flipping which is a real feat and glided into the middle of the bay outside the Camps front doors.  After forming a ‘kayak raft’ we discussed the adaptations and hardships that animals must overcome to survive in the man-made bay just north of downtown San Diego.  Due to the shallowness, large surface area to volume ratio, and storm run-off, the temperature and salinity of the bay will vary widely.  The species that use Mission Bay as a home and nursery must be hardy enough to withstand all of these constant changes to thrive.  Once understanding how humankind’s actions affect the habitat for these animals, we played a simulation game called evisceration.  One of the adaptations that the fascinating sea cucumber has when threatened is to eviscerate(expels) it’s intestines so that the predator becomes distracted by the lure of a free meal so the sea cucumber can escape.  In our adapted kayak game, students were to get a blue ball from the water and into one of the two counselors yellow kayaks for a point.  There were two teams and kayakers could pass the ball from one team member to another.  The defending team without the ball tried to block passes and they could force boat carrying the ball to eviscerate the ball if they rammed the ball carriers boat with their own.  Once the ball was in the open water, boats scrabbled to take possession and start the process again.  The surprise star of the game was Ally who was our group’s top scorer.  The game within the game was to see which boat could capsize the most.  I believe the top team found the harsh Mission Bay water eight times. 

The Plankton lab was riveting, but we will move on to the MEGA fauna that we witnessed in the afternoon.
 I am afraid that my words can’t do the wonders of Sea World justice.  To see an Orca up close is truly awe inspiring.  Their size, strength, and intelligence is unfathomable and watching the shows and the animals during their break times only scratches the surface of these top predators.  In addition to orca tanks, there is also Shark Encounter, Turtle Rescue, Penguin Encounter, Wild Artic (beluga whales, polar bears, and walruses), bat rays, sea lions, otters, bottle nose dolphins, and a top notch aquarium.  The shows are the real attraction.  You have the Shamu’s One World, Blue Horizon (dolphins and divers), Sea Lion show (the most entertaining), and the pet show.  Finely, if the animals don’t float your boat, then you always can cool off on the water coaster Atlantis, air out on the roller coaster Manta, or just get soaked on the Ship Wreck Rapids.  I can’t possible write about all the things to see and do, so just look at the pictures and enjoy. 

The most unique experience hands down goes to Trevor Buetner who got to participate in the Dolphin Interaction program.  Again a picture (or 194) is worth a thousand words, so please vicariously enjoy his time with the Sea World Dolphins.  In addition to working with an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, Trevor and I got to go back stage to feed the pilot whales.  Dolphins and pilot whale interactions in a 90 minute span, truly a once in a lifetime experience.

From sunny and hot San Diego, good night and good luck.

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