Riviera Maya Vacation
Day 2 - April 7, 2008
Our first excursion, which Ginger found online that was not included with the resort, was the Sea Life Discovery trip at Dolphin Discovery. After watching an intro video, we were divided into groups of about 8 and headed to the dolphin section of the park where we lined up single file on a platform with the trainer. In the marina we actually interacted with three species of sea life!
The dolphins we worked with were Angel (Anhel - male) and Kristal (Krees-tal - female). Each person participated in four main activities. We did the dolphin kiss where one of the dolphins brings his head up out of the water to expose his nose so we could put our hands under his chin and give him a kiss. Then there was the hug where we swam out a little and put our arms out in front of us so the dolphin could come and lay across our arms like we were giving him a hug. There was also the fin pull where the person goes out to the deep part of the water and puts their arms out like a T, then the dolphins come up behind the person, the person lightly grips the dorsal fins, and the dolphins pull the person across the lagoon. Finally, there was the foot push. The person goes into the deep water with legs locked straight and ankles bent. The dolphins come up behind the person and push on the person's feet with their noses so it looks like the person is flying like Superman on top of the water. The dolphins feel like slick wet rubber, very smooth. They are very playful and at times preferred to play then do the activity they were directed to do. We learned dolphins do not sleep, they only rest one side of their brains at a time which keeps them from drowning. While dolphins can hold their breath for about 7-8 minutes, if they fell asleep they would not be able to come up for air.
The next activity was interacting with manatees. We all walked over to the manatee area of the marina where we put on our masks and snorkels. We entered the lagoon and swam around the big central rock where the manatees swam. The manatees we played with were named Romeo, Juliet, and their 16 day old baby, Sabina (Sa-bean-a). They were being fed their lettuce so we got to see them out and moving around. Each adult manatee at the park eats 35 pounds of lettuce each day, plus other vegetables like sweet potatoes, brown potatoes, and carrots. After going around the rock we stood on another platform, single file with the trainer. A manatee came up to you and you gently pulled up on the front fins to bring them slightly out of the water for a kiss. Even the baby wanted to get in on the action and swam up to one of the guys in our group for her kiss. A manatee's skin is rough but because they move so slowly, algae grows on them giving them a slimy feel.
The final part of the excursion was the interaction with the sea lion. We got a short talk about some of the differences between a sea lion and a seal. Seals have little holes on each side of their heads which are their ears, but sea lions have external, visible ears. Sea lions also have a different fin structure than seals which allows sea lions to "stand up" on all four fins. Seals have small front fins and must propel themselves along the ground with their back ends while sea lions can use all four of their fins to "walk". Luna was the name of the sea lion we were with. She swam by us in our lines so that we could run our hands along her to pet her. When it was our turn, we also did the sea lion hug, just like the dolphin hug, and finally we all put our hands up in front of us and touched our fingers to our thumbs over and over indicating to Luna that she should speak. Sea lions make very raspy sort of barking sounds when they speak.
We dried off and headed to the gift shop to purchase some of the pictures the park photographer had taken, then headed back to the hotel for lunch. We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, getting snacks, walking around, napping, and then finally going to dinner at Mo Mo No Hana, where we each had stir-fried beef and vegetables.