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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Showing Appreciation on Memorial Day

Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day in the U.S. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have died in service. The day is typically celebrated by paying respects to memorials of those lost in wartime, attending parades and local events, or spending time appreciating family.

While the day was specifically created to honor those that have given their lives to protect our country, we also recognize our living veterans and the sacrifices they have made or continue to make, while in service. Sea TREK operators across the United States honor these heroes by offering a variety of discounts and special events, just for veterans.

wings for warriors at odysea aquarium

OdySea Aquarium and Wings for Warriors Partnership  
This program, which started on October 15th, 2018, provides local veterans and their loved ones the unique opportunity to take a SeaTREK helmet dive. Offered on the second Monday of every month, participants enjoy complimentary admission to OdySea and a free helmet diving adventure. The program was created in conjunction with Wings for Warriors, a volunteer, non-profit organization designed to support wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Read about Wings for Warriors here.

So far, the veterans who have participated in the OdySea Wings for Warriors program have described SeaTREK as therapeutic and a fantastic way to forget about life’s challenges.

Watch the video of Sea TREK Wings for Warriors at Odysea!

salute to heroes miami seaquarium

Miami Seaquarium’s “Salute to Heroes” Month
In recognition of service, Miami Seaquarium offers veterans free admission for a month! From April 27-May 27th, veterans can visit Seaquarium at no charge, and enjoy an additional 50% off animal interactions, including Sea TREK Reef Encounters.

In addition, all military and first responder guests are honored during one of the park’s show presentations. Read about additional discounts at Miami Seaquarium here.

Military Mom and daughter

Schlitterbahn Military Appreciation Days
Schlitterbahn, South Padre Island, Texas holds Military Appreciation Days, with discounted tickets available for active-duty military. Additionally, this year the waterpark/resort is honoring military members with its “American Heroes Week” from Memorial Day through Sunday, June 2nd, with free entry to the park and a 40% discount for military spouses and dependents. Find the details here.

Military family

Discovery Cove Honors Vets and Active Military
Discovery Cove recognizes both active-duty military members and veterans alike. The Waves of Honor Military Salute Program provides discounted rates on Day Resort Admission and Signature Dolphin Swim for military personnel and as many as three direct dependents. Learn more about the discounts available here.

Military family

Wonders of Wildlife Honors Vets Daily
Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, Missouri doesn’t wait for a holiday or specific day of the week to honor veterans. WOW offers a 10% discount for active-duty military, vets, and their dependents, daily.

Last year, Wonders of Wildlife participated in a dive program for vets. Working in conjunction with St. Louis-based program called LifeWaters, a nonprofit organization that helps veterans with severe injuries overcome their disabilities by learning to scuba dive. Wonders of Wildlife opened its aquarium to Lifewaters’ disabled divers. Watch a video of the event here.

The United States is often referred to as the land of independence and opportunity. We owe a debt of gratitude to our military and veterans for the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make, to uphold these freedoms. We want to thank our amazing Sea TREK operators in the U.S., for recognizing and honoring these very special Americans.

We wish all a safe and reflective holiday!

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Amazing Animal Encounters

This week, an incredible story of animal and human interaction went viral across social channels. A beluga whale in Norway, suspected of being a Russian “spy”, returned a cell phone to an observer. Obviously eager to please, the whale cheerfully returned the phone that was accidentally dropped into the ocean!

While the story would be unbelievable without footage, animals assisting humans are not as rare as one might think. Stories of creatures cooperating with humans and giving them a helping paw or fin can be found across the web. Here are a few of our favorites! 

Long-distance swimmer, Adam Walker, was trekking through New Zealand’s Cook Strait when a 6-ft. shark visited him– likely, a great white. Just as the shark approached, a pod of 10 dolphins appeared and accompanied him on his journey, protecting him from a potential attack! Check out the video here!

While amazing, this is not that unusual. Dolphins have been known to assist people in a variety of perilous conditions. Dolphins’ sonar and ability to detect distress appear to give them a uniquely intuitive connection to humans and an altruistic nature. In fact, some call dolphins the "real" man's best friend!

In 1996, a crowd of visitors at Brookfield Zoo just outside of Chicago, looked on in horror as they saw a toddler tumble more than 15 feet into a habitat, landing near seven gorillas. But, as zoo patrons cried out for help for the 3-year-old boy lying on the concrete below, an unlikely hero emerged.

Binti-Jua, a western lowland gorilla, grabbed the boy, cradled him in her arms, carried him to a doorway and laid him gingerly at the feet of waiting paramedics. The female gorilla appeared to act out of pure compassion for the injured boy.

Binti-Jua means "daughter of sunlight" in Swahili. As an infant, she had little mothering. Born in the Columbus Zoo in Ohio in March 1988, officials said her mother treated her with indifference. Humans had to hand feed Binti with a bottle. Raised by humans, she paid it all back that heroic day by saving the little boy. Binti-Jua was rewarded by the public and received not only high accolades but also gift baskets of fruit. You can watch Binti-Jua protect her new friend here.

 binti-jua gorilla saves child

Binti-Jua is not the only known gorilla hero. In 1986, a silverback gorilla named Jambo rescued five-year-old Levan Merritt, who fell 12 feet into a gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo in the United Kingdom. After the fall, the gorillas living in the enclosure began to circle the unconscious child. Jumbo placed himself between the boy and the other gorillas as if to say “don’t touch”! Jambo stood guard by the boy, rubbing his back as if to soothe him. Watch the incredible footage!

Back to our beautiful and charming friend, the beluga whale. Freediver Tang Yun was competing at Polarland Aquarium in Harbin, China, when she suddenly felt paralyzed in her legs and sunk to the bottom of the cold arctic pool. "I began to choke and sank even lower and I thought that was it for me – I was dead," Yun said.

whale saves diver

Enter Mila, the beluga! Mila spotted Yun and guided her to safety by placing Yun's leg in her mouth and pushing her to the surface. “I felt this incredible force under me," Yun said. An organizer of the event credited Mila with saving Yun's life: "She's a sensitive animal who works closely with humans and I think this girl owes her life to Mila."

In the early 1970s, Yvonne Vladislavich was traveling on a boat off the coast of Mozambique when the boat’s engine stopped working. The boat remained adrift until it was sunk by a wave.

Yvonne was a very good swimmer and decided to try to swim to shore. However, some sharks had other plans for her. Six sharks started circling her and kept coming closer…until heroic dolphins arrived. The dolphins kept the sharks away and followed Yvonne as she drifted 25 miles to a buoy.

dolphins save woman swimmer

Yvonne said that she is sure she would have drowned if she hadn’t received assistance from the dolphins. She frequently got tired during the journey and would have gone under if the dolphins hadn’t kept her above the water. She was the only survivor of the four people on the boat.

And in the most dramatic fashion, Rheal Guindon is very lucky to be alive... On a camping trip with his parents in Canada, he remained on shore while his parents fished from a nearby boat. The boat overturned and sadly, his parents drowned in front of him. He attempted to walk to town, but as it grew dark, he dropped to the cold ground and began crying. He felt something furry press against him as he fell asleep. The next morning, he discovered three beavers snuggling him. Had it not been for them, he would have frozen to death in the sub-zero temperatures that night.

These incredible stories illustrate how little we really know about animals and their capacity to understand when a fellow being is in need. We may be more alike than we are different!

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