Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ABC Wednesday: "O" is for Ocean

A bit of a cop out for ABC Wednesday this week with an easy answer to something starting with "O" - but I've been busy, so I have an excuse (not the least of which being a problem with my car involving Oil...)
But ocean we have in Florida - namely the Atlantic Ocean.

Waves gently lapping onto shore in New Smyrna Beach, FL

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest in the world (behind the Pacific, of course) and covers 41.1 million square miles(106.4 million square kilometres), or roughly 1/5th of the earth's surface.

Beachgoers enjoying the day at Fernandina Beach, FL

The average depths of the Atlantic, with its adjacent seas, is 3,339 meters (10,936 ft); without them it is 3,926 metres (12,881 ft). The greatest depth, 8,605 metres (28,232 ft), is in the Puerto Rico Trench (specifically known as the Milwaukee Deep). The Atlantic is also the saltiest of the world's oceans.

Night falls on palms and grasses next to the Atlantic at Neptune Beach, FL near Jacksonville.

Find other ABC Wednesday posts by visiting the one who started it all: Mrs Nesbitt's Place

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sea World: Part 12

Just a shot of one of the nice mediterranean looking buildings along the Sea World "Waterfront" area.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sea World: Part 11

All this way into my series of Sea World photos and the big man (or woman) his/her self has yet to make an appearance!

That would be Shamu, of course, the icon of Sea World. Not really unique though, as every Sea World has a "Shamu" and there have been so many of them now that they are almost in equal numbers to dead Popes. There was an original Shamu, but they are now more like the queen of England, or the president of the United States, or any husband - figureheads with no real power. :)

The current show featuring the orcas (aka Killer Whales) is called "Believe". They are called Killer Whales because they have no natural predators, not even sharks (they have been seen attacking even Great White Sharks), and can attack and kill most other marine wildlife, including some land dwelling creatures such as - gasp! - penguins. (Fishes, squids, seals, sea lions, walruses, birds, sea turtles, otters, penguins, cetaceans (both mysticete and odontocete), polar bears, reptiles, and even a moose -- they have all been found in the stomach contents of killer whales.)

But these "Show Orcas" are kept well fed and have only rarely harmed their trainers. They are very smart and amazingly athletic and agile. For such large creatures they can perform some very delicate stunts while in the water.

Above you can see a trainer "surfing" on the back of one of the orcas. They also perform a trick where the trainer is in the water with the orca behind them, with the orca propelling the trainer forward through the water with his nose while the orca spins itself like a screw, never allowing the trainer's feet to leave its snout while it move and turns around the pool. Quite impressive.

At the shows you must be aware that the first section of seats are in the "Splash Zone". Periodically during the show the orcas will leap out of the water near the pool's edge and land sideways - a belly flop - and splash huge amounts of water into the audience. Definitely not a camera friendly location!

You can read more about orcas at this wiki:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

For this week's Sky Watch, a photo of one of the signs to the area of Sea World Orlando, FL known as the "Waterfront". I like the colored glass circles very much.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sea World: Part 10

A lovely pond with a small waterfall in the background, and a duck swimming merrily along hoping for scraps from sandwiches, no doubt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday: "N" is for Nothing

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. Nada. Nyet.

Other places you can find nothing:
For other ABC Wednesday posts that (hopefully) contain something, visit:

(The above photo actually is something - the sky on a night with few stars showing and a short enough shutter speed that only darkness made it into the image...)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sea World: Part 9 - Budweiser Clydesdales

All information below taken from the offical FAQ on the Sea World website:

When did Anheuser-Busch acquire the famous Budweiser Clydesdales?

They were formally introduced to August A. Busch Sr. and Anheuser-Busch on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. August A. Busch Jr. wanted to commemorate the special day. To his father's delight, the hitch thundered down Pestalozzi Street carrying the first case of post-Prohibition beer from the St. Louis brewery.

What are the qualifications to be a Budweiser Clydesdale?

To qualify for one of the six hitches (five traveling and one stationary), a Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age. He must stand 72 inches, or 6 feet, at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, be bay in color, have four white stocking feet, a blaze of white on the face, and a black mane and tail.

How much food and water do the Clydesdales need?

Each hitch horse will consume as much as 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.

How big are the Clydesdales' horseshoes?

Clydesdale horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to end and weigh about five pounds - more than twice as long and five times as heavy as the shoe worn by a riding horse. A horse's hoof is made of a nerveless, horn-like substance similar to the human fingernail, so being fitted for shoes affects the animal no more than a manicure affects people.

Why does a Dalmatian accompany the hitch?

Dalmatians have traveled with the Clydesdale hitch since the 1950s. The Dalmatian breed long has been associated with horses and valued for their speed, endurance and dependable nature. Dalmatians were known as coach dogs, because they ran between the wheels of coaches or carriages and were companions to the horses. Today, the Dalmatians are perched atop the wagon, seated next to the driver.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sea World: Part 8

Dolphins! Lots and lots of dolphins!
First some "grown up" dolphins:

And lastly some "baby" dolphins from the dolphin nursery:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sea World: Part 7

Coral in an aquarium of the shark exhibit (the inside of the shark exhibit itself was much too dark for my camera to get sufficient shutter speed to capture any of the moving fish, so no shark photos, alas...)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

Yes, more palm trees for Sky Watch Friday from me... I couldn't resist. I just loved the perspective even though it was an un-aimed quick snap from the hip while walking through Sea World last week. Ideally I would have stopped, layed on the ground, and taken a handful of shots carefully aimed, etc... but I would have been trampled by someone on their way to see Shamu, no doubt. :)

For all the Sky Watch Friday fun, visit Tom at Wiggers World.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sea World: Part 5

Another slide show for your viewing pleasure, this time of the Journey into Atlantis ride, which is ye olde log flume spiced up to modern day. We didn't ride this one either, but our friends E&J did and got quite wet doing so. Refreshing on a hot summers day, though, I'm sure.

So you can get the full effect there are two slide shows - one from the front, and one from the side. The water spray was quite fun to watch.

Front view:

Side view:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ABC Wednesday: "M" is for Manatee

For ABC Wednesday this week I have chosen one of the most gentle creatures on earth - the manatee.

Manatee sculpture at Sea World, Orlando, FL

The West Indian manatee is also known as the sea cow. Manatees today are found mainly in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and coastal rivers and estuaries of South America, Central America, and Southeaster North America. (The manatee is a close relative to the dugong, which is native to the eastern hemisphere.)

The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee and has been protected by the state of Florida since 1893. It was declared an endangered species in 1967 and the best estimates are that there are currently no more than 3,000 of these gentle creatures left alive in the wild.

They have no natural predators and spend most of their time lazily swimming and floating around the warm shallow waters of the coast, estuaries, and rivers eating vegetation. They move slowly and spend most of their time submerged below the surface, making them difficult to see until you are right upon them, which leads to many encounters with speed boats driven by humans. It is quite common to see manatees with scars on their backs or large chunks of their tails or fins missing - victims of the powerful screws of speeding motor boats. The manatee below is missing most of its tail for just that reason.

With their population dangerously low and under constant threat by developments that destroy their habitats, there are many organizations today that endeavor to save the manatees, such as

So remember, if you are out in a motor boat where there may be manatees - slow down and obey the signs.

Enjoy other ABC Wednesday blogs by visiting Mrs. Nesbitt's Place:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sea World: Part 4

Below is a quick slide show of the roller coast called "The Kraken" at Sea World going around one of its loops. No, we didn't ride it. We aren't really coaster people. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sea World: Part 3

One of our favorite shows at Sea World is called "Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island", a comedy show featuring two seals named Clyde and Seamore. Prior to the show the crowd is entertained by a mime who was quite hilarious. Here he has taken a woman's cell phone and is "talking" on it.

The show itself is full of funny jokes and puns from the humans, and slapstick humor from the seals performing tricks or mimicking the humans.

In the end they even bring out a giant walrus to join in the fun.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sea World: Part 2

For my wife and I the biggest reason to visit Sea World is because they have penguins. If anyone hasn't guessed by now, we love penguins. We've been collecting them since we were dating and have a collection numbering around 200 unique penguin related items of varying shapes and sizes.

Inside the Penguin Encounter there are dozens of penguins from smaller Macaroni and Adelie up to larger King Penguins. (No, they do not sing and dance...) The lighting is poor for camera use - unless you have a very high end professional camera and lens - so the indoor shots are not great. There is water at the front of the exhibit and some of the penguins zip along back and forth at amazing speed, jumping out of the water and diving back in like speeding bullets - they are unbelievably fast compared to how awkward they seem when waddling on land. In the water they are in their true element and "fly" around with great ease and agility.

We also paid extra for the back stage tour of the arctic animals, which includes the opportunity to pet a penguin. Small groups of about twenty are allowed into the avian research area and one of the keepers holds a penguin while the guests come by one at a time to gentle touch the penguins lower back. Our penguin was a female named Tiara. They are very soft, not at all as they appear, because they have nearly 70 feathers per square inch on their bodies to protect them from the cold and keep them water resistant - all those feathers together feel more like fur.

Lastly, the photo below is of Tiara's "boyfriend" (as the tour guide told us) named Sterling. He wasn't too happy that we took his woman away for the petting. :)

Tiara and Sterling are both Megellanic penguins, found mostly in Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands, etc. They can tolerate warmer weather than their Antarctic cousins. The air temperature in the research area is around 55-60 farenheit, whereas the penguins in the larger Penguin Encounter area are kept in air temps right around freezing in order to keep them comfortable - quite a difference.