Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stingrays and sharks

Discovery Cove doesn't just house dolphins, there is lots more to explore so after our interaction we went to look at what was on offer the other side of the bridge. Here there is a large man made beach, another lagoon complete with caves and waterfalls which joins onto a lazy river encircling the whole park. Slow moving with deep parts and shallow parts it takes a good 20 minutes to completely float around the whole thing.
So after a freebie snack and drink we enjoyed a slow relaxing go around that before heading into the stingray lagoon. Here the smaller rays, minus their barbs, are kept and again you can get in and paddle around with them. We were just enjoying watching them when a trainer arrived with a bag full of mackeral. Yes our timing was brilliant and we had arrived at a feeding time. Now my excuse was that I had hold of the camera so I got out of it but Martin was caught and so had to grab a handful of fish. You have to hold the food in your clenched fist ensuring your thumb is safely tucked in, the rays then swim up and litterally vacuumn suck the fish out of your grasp. They dont have teeth but do have flaps of skin that can give a bit of a nip, as Martin found out. He kept his thumb well hidden but his large knuckles stuck up and that is what the ray latched onto. Poor Martin, but what an experience.

So we took ourselves off back to the restaurant to console him on the all-you-can-eat lunch which again was excellent fare. Huge portions, lots of drink (Martin was a bit upset to find out there was free beer but as we had come in the car and he was designated driver he had to stick to the soft stuff) and delicious chocolate and cherry gateaux.
We couldnt really swim straight after such a huge meal so we had a bit of a wander around the avairy where you could get the birds to come right up and sit on your shoulder if you got yourself a pot of bird food. Plenty to see here for the bird lover and I was only dissappointed that there were no posters or labels up to let us know what all the bird species were. There are only so many times you can keep saying "and what's that one" to the handlers.

Another couple of floats round the park, a couple more freebie drinks and snacks and then the only pool left to explore was the larger rays, coral reef and shark one. This lagoon is much deeper and cold. You are supplied with a free snorkel so that you can swim underwater to watch all the coral fish, but neither of us could get on with these so we didnt see much. As well as that, the larger rays are much more agresive in their feeding and since yet again we had hit on a fish meal time, we had to make sure there was at least 10ft between us and the trainers. So for us this pool was a bit of a failure.

Anyway it was now getting on for home time so we hit the showers, got changed and headed off towards the exit. Where one last treat was waiting for us. Now I dont think this was part of the show but a guy had turned up with a wooden truck (quite a large box on wheels) in tow. We were curious to discover why so many people were crowding round. We could hardly believe it. In the box, free to be petted and quite happy with all the attention was a real live armadillo! I didnt manage to get a photo as the light levels were all wrong but I did get to touch it and stroke it. They feel a bit like cocoanuts LOL.

An extra surprise to a magical day.

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