A Buoyant Beluga Birthday

Posted on August 18, 2004 by Sara Hickman. | 1 Comment

Beluga whales are gray when they are first born, to camoflouge the babies from killer whales and polar bears, their predators. They are about 150 pounds when born, and the gestation period before birth is 15 months! As they age, they turn white so these magnificent creatures can blend in among the ice floes. Nature is beyond science, once again!

These are some of the things we learned during Lily’s training period before she entered the 50 degree water at Sea World on Sunday. Sporting a full body wet suit and protective booties, Lily slipped into the salty, chilly water at noon and was introduced to Tina, a graceful 3000 pound beluga. (The other beluga in the tank was named Whisper! I love that. Whisper. I think I want to have a band called “Whisper”. And I want to change my name to Josephine. Josephine Whisper! But you can call me “Scamp”, like they did on the Nanci Griffith

Lily was the only child at the whale interaction. All the other folks were adults, including the trainers. That was inspiring in itself, watching as Lily gently responded to the whale, the trainer’s commands followed to the tee. The funniest part was when Lily placed her finger near the beluga’s blow hole (per instructions, mind you) and the whale let out a very loud flatulance sound.
A kid friendly whale! There was a lot of hands on interaction and explanation on how the fluke/fins work as fingers ran across the rubbery skin. Towards the end of their time together, Lily also learned a last hand sign (from her heart to the top of the water)—Tina turned, dove down, with only the top of her tail extended, and splashed all of the trainees full face. Lily was laughing, shaking her head, salty water everywhere. She is such a good sport because that water was c-c-c-cold! We got some beautiful pix.

Thanks to Andy and Sara Ridinger for a lifetime of memories for Lily and our family. It was their birthday gift to Lily, and we will never forget the kindness.

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One response to “A Buoyant Beluga Birthday”

  1. Barbara says:

    and uh one and uh two…….

    Baby Baluga…Baby Baluga !!!

    I think Lily is now ready to swim with the dolphins… there is a lovely place in one of the Florida keys…..

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