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A Beluga Whale Interaction – The Highlight Of Our Journey So Far | Don't Ever Look Back

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A Beluga Whale Interaction – The Highlight Of Our Journey So Far

A Beluga Whale Interaction – The Highlight Of Our Journey So Far

One question often asked by family and friends is “what’s been the highlight of your trip so far?”. We take a few seconds to consider our answer – swimming with sharks was amazing, spending a day at Disneyland was tremendous fun and feeding giraffes was a lifelong dream.

But we can’t select just one adventure that has definitively been our highlight so far. Until now.

Kieron and Amy with Oliver the Beluga Whale

The two of us with Oliver, a 4-year old Beluga Whale.

The Beluga Whale Interaction at SeaWorld San Antonio was an experience that allows us to answer that question with conviction. For both of us, it’s been the major highlight of our journey so far!

Ever since she was young, Amy has had a love affair with these adorable creatures and swimming with them was one of her 25 before 25 list items. On a scorching Texas afternoon, we drove our rental car from downtown San Antonio to SeaWorld and were first taken to the SeaWorld Interactive Center for an introductory video on the beluga whales.

We were then given our wetsuits which seemed crazy considering the near 100-degree temperature outside, however the beluga pool is set at arctic temperatures and they were certainly needed. Our trainer Megan then led us to the pool and introduced us to our beluga whales for the day – 11-year old Luna (pictured below with Amy) and 4-year old Oliver (pictured with Kieron).

Amy and Luna the Beluga WhaleKieron with Oliver the Beluga Whale

The first half of our interaction was to be spent with Oliver – the younger, chubbier beluga whale with a head described as a “big ball of jelly”. After getting a few happy snaps with him, Megan then proceeded to teach us more about beluga whales in a hands-on environment using Oliver as our subject.

We got to feel what a beluga’s skin felt like (it was so ridiculously soft and smooth!), examine his dorsal ridge (what belugas have instead of fins) and even tickle and poke Oliver with hilarious reactions.

Amy tickling Oliver.

Amy tickling Oliver.

Megan then showed us inside Oliver’s mouth and his peg-shaped teeth, which were still growing inside his young mouth. Very cute!

Oliver showing us his teeth.

Oliver showing us his teeth.

The two of us then got to have some playtime with Oliver as he cheekily squirted us with some water before showing us some of his tricks including the ‘torpedo’ where he set off at high speed and leapt out of the water.

And then squirting Kieron with water.

... and then squirting Kieron with water!

But before we knew it our time with Oliver was over and it was then time to meet Luna, the bigger of the two beluga whales participating in our interaction. We posed for a few more photos with her, our favorite being “silly faces” where she mimicked our facial expression.

Silly faces with Luna!

Silly faces with Luna!

Megan then got Luna to show us her collection of tricks and they left us in awe! We got to become the trainers for the next few minutes as we gestured to Luna with our arms and she followed up with an impressive trick and bobbing on the water.

Luna putting on a show!

Luna putting on a show!

After a few more tricks such as rolling over (in perfect sync with us) and shaking hands, it was then Luna’s turn to show us her ‘torpedo’. She leapt out of the water on a couple of occasions, each jump higher than the  last and leaving a greater splash behind.

Luna out of the water!

Luna out of the water.

Megan then showed us Luna’s curved tail fin and then told us to slap the water repetitively as she quickly moved out of the way. Why was our trainer deserting us? Because Luna would take the opportunity to completely drench the two of us using her tail fin!

But we just couldn’t stay mad at this beautiful face and rewarded Luna with some fish for a job well done.

Reward for a good performance!

Reward for a good performance!

The beluga whales at SeaWorld are trained with positive reinforcement using their favorite toys, a high-pitched whistle and of course, food.

While the Beluga Whale Interaction Program might seem expensive at $159 per person, it was truly worth every penny we spent on it and will take some beating to strip this experience of the title of “the highlight of our journey so far”.

To view a full photo gallery of our Beluga Whale Interaction, please visit our Facebook Page.

Posing with Oliver

The two of us posing with Oliver.

Did you know? Facts about Beluga Whales.

  • Beluga whales are born a blueish/brownish grey and turn white as they mature and reach their adult coloration at 7-9 years old.
  • Belugas are known as the “canary of the sea” because of their extended repertoire of vocalizations.
  • Blubber accounts for nearly half of a Beluga Whale’s body weight.
  • Beluga whales can weigh over 3000 pounds.
  • Belugas have 34 peg-shaped teeth.
  • They feed from the bottom of the ocean and their diet consists of clams, lobsters, oysters.
  • A 1-year old beluga whale eats approximately 20 pounds of fish per day whereas older belugas consume 40 pounds per day.
  • There are 80,000 – 100,000 beluga whales in the wild. They are a protected species.

20 Comments

  1. Posted October 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    This looks amazing, I’d definitely love to do something like this one day! And the beluga whales are so cute 🙂
    Beverley recently posted..Australia; I’m Not From London!

    • Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:51 am | Permalink

      They are simply adorable! We couldn’t wipe the smiles of our faces the entire time we were there. Hope you can do it one day!

  2. Posted October 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    How cool! When we were clicker training our puppy we learned that the same method of training was used for dolphins and whales at Sea World to teach them tricks and such.

    I’d love to do this sometime, and $159 doesn’t seem too steep of a price. How long overall did you get to spend with the whales?
    Technosyncratic recently posted..Occupy Berlin: We Are the 99%

    • Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:53 am | Permalink

      It’s amazing how the same training can be used for a whole range of different animals – I guess it’s all about the rewards though. 🙂

      For the experience we had, we would have paid a whole lot more! We’re not 100% sure how long we spent in there since we completely lost track of time but I’d say it was somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour.

  3. Posted October 18, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    i want to do this! HOW COOL!
    wandering educators recently posted..Can Your Clothes Make The Journey?

    • Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      So cool! You can do it at both SeaWorld San Antonio and SeaWorld Orlando.

  4. Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Wow, this looks so amazing. The whales are gorgeous and look so happy. I want one!

    • Posted October 18, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

      It truly was. They always have that smile on their face – very cute! 😀

  5. Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    Those whales are too cute!
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Saturday in Santiago: Boudoir

    • Posted October 18, 2011 at 1:59 am | Permalink

      Tell me about it! If only we could have taken one home with us! 😀

  6. Posted October 18, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Incredible! My husband and I want to do this at the Atlanta Aquarium. You 2 are SO cute!!!
    Andi Perullo recently posted..My Wedding & Honeymoon: Day 6-10 (Part 15)

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      Thanks Andi! Had no idea they offered it in Atlanta – look forward to seeing the post when you get around to it. 🙂

  7. Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    That looks totally amazing. At that price tag I’d have to consider it sometime. Did they also take all the photos for you?
    Scott – QuirkyTravel recently posted..Checking out the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      It was amazing! The price only includes one printed photo – the SeaWorld marketing team were kind enough to provide all of the other pictures for our article.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      If you’re in a small enough group though, the support staff will take your camera and take pictures for you.

  8. Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    This is amazing. I won’t even show my wife these pictures because we’d be on a plane to San Antonio tomorrow!
    Erik recently posted..Photo of the Day- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio

  9. Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing experience! I’ve swam with sharks and dolphins but never knew that beluga whales were an option. Seems like you were able to learn a lot about the beautiful creatures as well. Might have to add this to the bucket list 🙂
    Tawny recently posted..Relationship advice from the Galapagos.

  10. Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    That looks like so much fun! Certainly puts my meager bottlenose dolphin sightings over the weekend to shame, haha.
    Chris recently posted..The Adventures of Ford Focus: Tea Gardens

  11. Posted October 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I LOVE Beluga Whales (Baby Beluga anyone?) and seeing my first one ever at SeaWorld San Diego was really amazing! I would definitely foot the bill to have the opportunity to interact with them the way you guys did!
    Annie recently posted..Tasting the Fusion: Night Noodle Markets 2011 in Sydney

  12. Posted July 8, 2012 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    I just found your website and found this post on your home page. This experience looks amazing. And the whales look so adorable, it’s easy to forget they’re so massive. I really wanted to do it when I was in Sea World San Diego, yet the trip was expensive as it was, so I skipped it and now I kinda regret. Another reason to return, I guess 🙂
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..New Zealand Moment of the Week: The Green Color Rules

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