Location: San Diego, CA
Today we visited Sea World in San Diego, which was the sole reason for us making this trip this year. Sea World is one of the few places outside of Antarctica where you can see Emperor Penguins. And since we were just a little too far north in February to see them, we decided to use a trip to San Diego to see that largest penguin species.
The park didn’t open until 10:00 so we got some well needed rest and slept in this morning. We still managed to arrive to the park shortly after it opened and got to see the flamingo parade as the birds were walked from one holding pen to another. Our penguin tour was scheduled for later in the day so we decided to hit all of the major rides as soon as we got there to avoid the crowds. Ryan went on “Journey to Atlantis” twice and got a little wet. But he dried out quickly in the hot San Diego sun.
Next we went on the Wild Arctic ride and toured the arctic exhibit. We saw a variety of polar wildlife including beluga whales and walruses. We didn’t get to see any polar bears, because one of them might have been pregnant and was held in a different area.
We then attended the dolphin show and saw talented divers and dancers put on a show before some dolphins come out and put on an aquatic show of their own. After the show we visited the shark encounter. Then Ryan went on the MANTA roller coaster three times. It was the best ride in the park. We had lunch then saw the sea lions.
Then came time for the whole purpose of the trip, the Penguin Encounter and Penguin Experience Tour. Our tour guide Marc took us around the penguin exhibit and pointed out some interesting penguin facts, including that the chinstrap penguins (no longer present) were the most ornery of all animals in the park. Then we went backstage and saw the science and keeper area. The exhibit featured five species of penguins: King, Gentoo, Emperor, Adelie, and Macaroni. This was our first time seeing the latter three in the wild or in captivity.
They brought a personable macaroni penguin into a lab area where we were given an opportunity to get close and pet the penguins. Everyone in the group had time to pet and have their picture taken with her.
Then we went into the habitat, which was kept at a balmy 25.5 F. We were wearing shorts. We didn’t venture far into the frigid area, but we did get to feel the chill and get close to some of the penguins behind a gate. All too soon though, we had to leave the backstage tour and explore the rest of the park. We would come back to the penguin exhibit before we would leave the park to get one last look at the cute birds.
After the backstage tour, we saw a funny show featuring sea lions that included lots of 80’s and 90’s references for the adults in the crowd. Then we went to the dolphin area and got to see some of them doing jump training for their show. Then we went over to killer whale underwater viewing area and saw a couple of the park’s premier animals swimming around.
Before returning to the hotel we went to the beach at sunset. It would be a waste to fly cross-country and at least not try to go to the shore and touch the pacific. Ryan took some sand, while Rachel took pictures.
In the evening, we went out for some great mexican food and the Coyote Cafe and Cantina in Old Town.
Tomorrow we fly back home and conclude our anniversary trip.
Steps Taken: 16,124 (6.6 miles)
Total pictures: 1,469
Total penguins species seen: 6 (magellenic, king, gentoo, emperor, adelie, and macaroni)