Oh those eyes! To celebrate one of those milestone birthdays, I decided to do something different on the actual day. Not being the type of person who jumps out of planes with nothing wrong, or scales buildings and rock faces, my decision was narrowed down to a couple of options, from which I chose the Seal Trainer for a day.
Located at Underwater World in Mooloolaba, this friendly, fun filled place is an easy hours drive from Brisbane. My first contact via email to the staff, had been earlier in the year to see if this day would be possible. From the first contact through to the actual experience, every single staff member I met however briefly, were incredibly welcoming, friendly and helpful.
The seal trainer for the day experience, runs for four hours, with you being the only person working behind the scenes with the staff. Entry into Underwater World, lunch, a T Shirt, seal swim, photo plus DVD of photos are all included in the $250 charge. For me, this experience was worth every cent!
Usually I use all my own photos, however I was a little busy this day, therefore photo credits will be given to those who took the photos. As different staff members were taking photos, I simply, don’t remember who took what shot, therefore I am crediting these photos to Underwater World staff. Photos may be cropped, but remain otherwise unaltered.
After being met by the welcoming, Malcolm near the front desk, I was whisked through the back to the behind the scenes area for the seals. Here I was shown a locker for my gear, and given a run down of the facilities. Next stop was over to meet Ally in the shop to pick up a T Shirt emblazoned with Seal Trainer for a day.
More staff members were introduced, and I was given a rundown on the seals, their daily habits and food intake. Having spent some time on commercial fishing boats in the past, the lingering fishy smell did not bother me at all. I who have to say, the organisation behind the scenes is superb! Everything is clean, tidy and well looked after. Not only that, the banter between staff was refreshingly nice to listen to. There is something special about people who enjoy their job rather than view it as a chore.
I simply cannot stress enough, how amazing all the staff were. This was an exciting experience for me and to welcomed with open arms, then treated like one of their own was definitely the icing on the cake.
My first job of the day, was in the sound booth, where upon Malcolm’s direction, I would start the different music and voice cues for the first show of the day. Having a husband who owns a lot of sound gear for his musical pursuits, I am a little familiar with what the different equipment looks like, making it all the more interesting as I sat in the booth. Plus the added interest of letting the trainers out the back know what each seal was doing. IE when each seal leaves to head back stage, Malcolm would relay the information via the microphones to the back stage area. All very interesting.
On this particular day, one little sealion had decided to take up residence on the jetty, rather than retire to her private pool for the duration of the show. Obviously she felt the need to be the star of the show. This meant, the first show was changed based on her refusal to leave the main arena. Groucho took this opportunity to display his stubborn side, refusing to do some things , simply because of the changes. Definitely a case of their own personalities shing through!
After the show, it was back behind the scenes with Katie and Malcolm, where I had personal one on one meet and greets with two of the seals, the huge 260 kilo Groucho, followed by his smaller counterpart Sly, who was just learning to meet the public. Some of the other seals were in their own private pools behind the scenes, with plenty of curious looks from the residents as I was shown through their living quarters. These seals and sea lions are definitely well cared for, which was fantastic to see.
Sly obliges with his health check, opening his mouth wide so I could check his teeth, during the behind the scenes meet & greet. Sly was a perfect gentleman during his health check, although both his and Grouchos breath smelt somewhat fishy….!!
After giving the seals their daily massage- achieved by spraying the running water from the hose over their sleek bodies, it was time for lunch. Lunch involved a visit to the shop near the seal pool. Here I was introduced to staff who advised I could order whatever I wanted. Quite a wide variety to choose from, however I was happy with a sand which and a pot of tea.
After lunch, I was seated to watch the second seal show. During the show I was called upon to feed the fish to one seal. What a beautifully smooth move made to leap majestically out of the pool and ever so gently pull the fish from my hand. Very awesome!
Note our little photobombing sealion has still remained in residence in the background…😄
A very interesting, informative and personal tour of the animal hospital, guided by Maddi, as well as other areas of the complex followed the second show. To be above the shark tank was a wonderful experience, watching the sharks, Rays and other fish go about their normal business. The hospital was an interesting place, lots of babies, and only one turtle on this occasion. Really enjoyed this behind the scenes tour.
The final task for the day was a swim with the seals. Aah time to meet the residents in their territory, and not really much of a hardship task! Wet suits were offered and gratefully received as the water temperature was a bit lower than your normal bath! Only two of us swimming today, myself and my daughter as we had brought a voucher for her recent birthday.
To say this seal swim was an incredible experience does not do it justice. Malcolm accompanied us in the water letting us know when it was ok to pat the seals as they lazily drifted by. Now I can swim, but not as beautifully smoothly as these majestic creatures. We were offered the opportunity to snorkel under the water and view the public through the glass. For us though, the water was way to cold to keep your face in, so we passed on that one.
What a highly entertaining time, with Malcolm photobombing, as well as Groucho who will not even let his girlfriend onto his side of seal rock!
If you are after a once in a lifetime experience, consider this. Honestly you cannot be disappointed in any way😄.
Credit to all the staff we dealt with, I do apologise if I cannot name you all, only the day was so full in and exciting. Thank you!
Final photo- seal massage in progress!