Splashing Sensations at San Diego Seaworld

Bordering Mexico, San Diego is one of the southernmost cities in California and the second largest in the State. On what must be one of the wettest day in Southern California - where it purportedly "never rains" according to Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood - we went on a trip to the world famous San Diego SeaWorld.

Occupying a sprawling 200 acres, the marine-based attraction supposedly sets the standard for similar aquatic destinations around the world like Hong Kong's Ocean Park and our own Underwater World. It features many daily shows, thrilling rides and marine animal encounters. To date, most than 80 million have visited this world class attraction.

How was our experience there? Well, the shows were pretty nifty but we wondered where the crowds were since the place was quite desolate.

The entrance to San Diego SeaWorld didn't look as cheery as we imagined - probably due to the continuous rain and howling winds.

Good thing they sold these nifty raincoats for about US$4 apiece.

First up for us was the Clyde and Seamore show, featuring two lovable California Sealions and a human cast of "sailors" and "crew members"...

...and a lovable 2 tonned Walrus, complete with brown whiskers and tusks. Ain't he/she cute?

A hands-on encounter is always a must at these places, and here we petted some friendly rays.

Would you believe that these fat and rotund Manatees (a close cousin to the Dugong at Underwater World) were once mistaken as mermaids? Hmmm... those sailors must surely be drunk! They were pretty serene though, happily munching their lettuces like all good manatees should.

We also viewed more typical marine creatures like these fishes occupying a coral reef habitat.

Like in all good attractions, a decent F&B place is a must. Here we tucked into some great cajun-inspired cooking at the Shipwreck Reef Cafe. Apparently, there are nine restaurants or cafes to choose from! Wow.

SeaWorld also had a full-fledged 3D theatre for those who preferred a more artificial aquatic experience. We caught this show featuring the lovable characters of Sesame Street which was fun but forgettable.

Of course, the star of the show must be Shamu the Killer Whale. Shamu even has a website with a webcam dedicated to him! Here's one for the cameras...

And another one, with a big splash to boot!

Finally, one to say goodbye to the audience.

If you miss Shamu and his killer whale pals, you can bring home cuddly versions of them from the numerous shops at SeaWorld. Merchandising is naturally a big thing here.

Not to be outdone are the smaller cousins of killer whales - the dolphins. Here you can see how empty the entire arena is, and we could choose practically any seat we wished. Some braver members of the audience chose those belonging to the "Splash Zone" where you were guaranteed a wet and wild time.

Dolphins are naturally friendly creatures, and they liked to come up close and personal to humans....

...at times even behaving like humans. Eerie isn't it?

After giving it up for the marine mammals, our focus turned to the more misunderstood denizens of the deep.

As you can see, they are not called killing machines for nothing. A pity though that their reputation far exceeds their actual propensity for murdering man.

This is about as close as we dared to get to those gaping jaws. On a more serious note, sharks aren't really our enemies. There is really no reason for us to indulge in shark's fin soup this Chinese New Year.

On the contrary, the real killing machines are...

these "shoals" of man killing cars, each capable of disembowelling, crushing and bloodying humans at an alarming rate daily.

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