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.


Anonymous said...

Penguins are, in fact, very nice animals and quite amusing.

Sharon said...

He is so cute