Sea World Orlando is offering a new and exciting Behind-the-Scenes Tour that will invite guests to learn about endangered manatees and sea turtles, to pet a shark and a penguin, and to see the polar bear dens. With the 2nd Day Free and Fun Card options, and with the money you’ll save purchasing Discount Sea World Tickets, you should definitely add on this truly memorable and special experience!
As we will be booking this amazing tour at a discounted price, Sea World was kind enough to offer us a preview – keep reading for more information and pictures!
The Behind-the-Scenes Tour starts out in the North support area, behind Dolphin Cove, where rehabiliation efforts take place. Guests will learn about various conservation efforts, and will be encouraged to be aware of the major plights these animals suffer. For example, one of the most common causes of sea turtle injury is getting caught in plastic grocery bags – we were encouraged to recycle our plastic bags, and to invest in canvas reusable bags (which are sold at major grocery chains for only about $1 each.)
At the rehab facility, guests will find sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees, most of which have been injured and rescued by the Sea World Animal Care Specialists. Keep in mind, this portion of the tour will vary, given that the rehab center will be home to different animals at different times. There have been numerous success stories over the past year involving manatees who were rescued due to cold stress after a particularly chilly winter season, and were then released safely back into the wild once they had fully recovered. Learn about Mossback and her calf’s safe return to the wild on our blog.
Next, we went behind-the-scenes at Shark Encounter. (On our way, we drove under the Kraken roller coaster, which was a nifty little bonus!) Here, guests will learn about common misconceptions people have about sharks -such as the myth that all sharks are huge, monstrous beasts, who will attack a human any chance they get. In fact, sharks come in all sorts of sizes, and sharks do not typically attack humans. However, they do have very poor eyesight, so when they are looking for food, sometimes they can mistake a human for another sea creature. If a shark is looking up at the surface of a water with the sun high in the sky, all their eyes will eprceive are different shaped shadows. Check out this cool picture:
Guests will also get the chance to touch a white-spotted bamboo shark, which can grow up to 3 feet in length. This portion of the tour is great for kids, because they can tell all of their friends they touched a shark, without things getting too scary. The small sharks are in a normal sized aquarium and they kind of feel just feel like touching a snake underwater.
It was extremely interesting to learn that there are only 60 to 80 attackes on humans by parks in a year throughout the entire world – and of those, only 10 result in death. New Smyrna Beach holds the record for the most shark attacks. In comparison, 1,000,000 humans die each year from mosquitos, due to transmission of deadly diseases. Meanwhile, 100,000,000 sharks are killed each year by humans.
We have a tendency to eradicate things we’re scared of or we don’t know anything about, like snakes or bees or sharks. But, these animals all serve vital functions in maintaining balance in our world and they are key to the sustainability of the environment. As such, education and awareness are extrememly important.
Back on the bus! We continued learning about the dangers of over-fishing certain populations of fish and shark. In addition to some fish containing high levels of mercury or toxins, we could negatively impact ocean populations. If we over-fish the sharks, then the octupus (who are a major food source for sharks) will over populate. Then, they’ll eat all of the lobsters, and who wants to live in a world without lobsters?!? The lesson? Be aware and be careful when fishing.
We also learned about something horrid called Finning. In some other countries, it is common for individuals to catch sharks, cut off their fins, and then throw them back into the water to die a slow and painful death. The reason they cite? The sharks take up too much room on the boat and they want more room for more fins. They dry the fins and make a soup, which can be sold for 50 to 100 bucks a cup. The interesting bit of this is that the flavor doesn’t even come from the fins, but the seasonings.
Our next stop was Wild Arctic, where we checked out the private Polar Bear Dens. Apparently, for each animal at Wild Arctic, there is a back closed off area, where the animals can take a reprieve from being on display and in some instance, interact with their fellow kind. There are five different polar bear areas, and the bears are rotated through each, with only one of the areas visible to the public. Each bear will be in the public display about once a day, and they are usually solitary animals. Polar bear cubs are only cared for for about 2 to 3 years. There is a brother and sister pair who spend some time together every once in a while, but as this goes against their natural isntincts, their interactions are kept to a minimum.
The polar bears are trained to an extent – they respond to their names and can participate in specific behaviors, kind of like a pet dog. They have black skin with clear fur. Surprisingly, they can live in climates with up to 90 degree weather – they lose or gain weight to regulate their temperature. For example, in the winter, they’ll eat fatty animals like seals or baluga whales to put on some insulation for the cold weather. This alos means that the hunting of these animals would certainly negatively affect polar bear populations.
Another interesting fact about how our actions affect polar bears – for the first time in history, we have seen evidence that polar bears are drowning. In order to get to a food source, polar bears sometimes have to swim acorss icy lakes and rivers. Because they are such large creatures and not excellent swimmer, they rest on large pieces of ice during their trek. However, due to climate changes over the years, much of which has been caused by human pollution, there are less and less ice caps for them to rest on, so they drown on their quest for food. Some polar bear carcasses have been found in the artic that have been so riddled with toxins and chemical waste, they are labeled and disposed of as if they were toxic waste.
We got to touch a sample of polar bear fur, which was not as soft as I thought it would be. It was actually quite rough and scratchy!
The next stop on the tour is the Avian Research Area, where we got to meet and touch a Megellanic Penguin – which are interestingly a warm weather species, existing in about 60 degree weather. We learned a ton about this species of penguin. For example, the baby penguins are named when they are first born, but male and female babies look exactly the same. So, a few months later, once gender tests come back, it turns out little Mario is actually a girl! Many of the penguin have typical names of the opposite sex. Another interesting story was about Marion and Penny, who nest together year after year. Most penguins will mate for life and find each other each breeding season. However, this pair have never produced any babies. After some DNA tests were run, they discovered they were both females! I guess we can figure out why there were no babies!
All in all, the new Sea World Behind-the-Scenes Tour was a very interesting and unique experience – one that will truly add to your Orlando vacation. Be sure to book your reservation early – just let us know what day you want and we’ll take care of it for you! For more information or to book your Discount Behind-the-Scenes Tour, please visit our website or Kissimmee Location, The Official Ticket Center. You may also call us toll-free at 1-877-406-4836.