Sunday, March 30, 2014

Discovering Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort right near Sea World.  They only let 1,300 people inside a day to avoid crowds and to maintain a secluded, resort atmosphere. Inside, it feels like you are at a hotel in the Caribbean, with lush vegetation,  a sandy beach, and multiple opportunities to swim in their reef, lagoon, and lazy river - most of which have fish and animals swimming with you.  They are known for their dolphin encounter but other cool features included the Grand Reef where you can snorkel with fish, rays, and sharks (behind glass) and an aviary where the birds expect to be hand-fed throughout the day.

As soon as we arrived and checked in we met this marmoset.   I loved that the trainer was telling the kids about not getting an exotic animal as a pet.  He suggested, instead, that they get a degree in biology or zoology and get a job working with animals every day.  The marmoset was wearing a belt with a leash on it.  The trainer told us that Discovery Cove does not let visitors hold or pet the marmosets.  We are also primates so if a visitor had a cold we could infect the animal.  Raising just one animal like this costs over $20,000 a year.  They are major assets for Discovery Cove so they are very careful about protecting them!
We went to the aviary before changing into our wetsuits.  I thought of my friend and wildlife photographer, Jim Roetzel, when I was taking these photos of the birds.  He says you always need to have the bird's eye(s) in your photo and to include some background - a branch, leaves.  How'd I do?

This owl was my favorite. But I have to admit, he scared me a little!
The birds are used to being hand-fed every hour.  Many were very friendly and eager to land on an arm or shoulder to get a snack.  The workers told us that they also put pans of food deep in the foliage for the birds that are shy and stay away from visitors.

 Kyle waited patiently and eventually some birds landed on his cup of food!
 This peacock was not shy at all.  He pranced right in, stood in the middle of all the people, and fluffed his feathers in a bright display.

It was so deliberate that we wondered if he was trained to do this.  He stayed for a long time and turned several times so everyone could take his picture.

After the aviary, we met Morty the Torty.  He is 8 years old and about 80 pounds.  We were told tortoise live to about 80 years old and can weigh up to 200 pounds.  Morty is still a baby by those standards!

Grace gets right up front and never hesitates to ask questions and touch the animals when invited to do so.  She is so brave and curious.  Love that about her!

Here's the teaser....we got our first view of the dolphins on the way to get our wetsuits. There are 45 of them living at Discovery Cove.  We met two - the oldest and the youngest.

More in the next post...


Phyllis said...

Lynn...You have taken some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen....Grace, you have a wonderful Mommy and Daddy. They, and Nana and Ba, have exposed you to some wonderful things...

Nana said...

Grace was brave and held the birds. When she didn't want to do it anymore; I asked her "why" she had a sad face and said "Nana he bite me"..LOL