Ocean World: Sea Lion Experience

Ocean World in Puerto Plata is like a Dominican version of a sea world. It is a park that is home to various species of water animals as well as other exotic creatures. We knew before going that swimming with the dolphins was a high priority. Matt had done it with some charter guests that he had here and he said it was amazing! 

We arrived in the early afternoon, not really knowing what to expect from this place other than we knew we wanted to swim with the dolphins. We hadn’t done much research about the place so we weren’t sure how exactly admission worked so we explained that we wanted to do a dolphin swim. It was $169 per person, quite a bit more than we are used to spending but it was a birthday celebration so we decided to go for it. The lady was happy to arrange the dolphin swim and then informed us that because we were purchasing this package we could also choose between a sea lion encounter or shark encounter for FREE! Seeming both of us are pretty petrified of sharks, we opted for the sea lion encounter. We also learned that lunch was also included; which was great because we were both starving at this point. I can’t rave about the food because it wasn’t excellent, but they did have some cute little dessert cakes of which I took a few in honor of my birthday. They were super small so I took 3, 2 for me and one in case Matt wanted one, but he said I could have them all, on for every 10 years. 

Our sea lion encounter wasn’t until 1:30 so we had about an hour to kill. With so much to see we started by heading over to the shark show. We found a cool spot that overlooked the shark tank so we could see the sharks from above. All of the sharks are nurse sharks, some smaller ones maybe 3-4 feet and then some monstrous ones that were probably 8-10 feet. Watching them from above was enough for me, I was really glad we didn’t choose to do the shark encounter! 

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From there we visited the birds! I wish I had paid better attention to what kind of birds they were, but they were small, colorful (mix of bright blues, green, red and yellow) and quite noisy. Luckily we got in there before the crowds so I was able to get a hand full of bird seed to feed them. You can see in the pictures I had a few interested at first and then 10-20 birds came swarming over. They were chirping away and pecking at the bird seed in my hand. We hung around the birds for a bit, and admired the toucans and brightly colored Macaws from afar (these cages weren’t open for visitors). We then strolled through the park and saw some large iguanas, the biggest i’ve ever seen, and then we got peak at some of the dolphins, just cruising around their tank before the dolphin show was going to start. 

1:30 came and it was time for the sea lion encounter. Neither of us really knew what to expect out of this, but we did get a peak at one of the sea lions before entering the stadium and were fascinated by its size. We got some basic information about the sea lions and how we needed to act in order to keep the encounter safe, but we really were in awe of their size when we first saw them. We got to meet a male, who was absolutely enormous, 700lbs! A little intimidating at first, but watching these creatures with their trainers was absolutely amazing. They knew commands from hand signals, snaps of fingers and even key words and phrases. We each got to sit on a bench and the beast came up for a mini photo shoot with us. He posed over our shoulder, gave a kiss, stuck out his tongue and a few times even showed his teeth. So funny to watch him change his demeanor with one simple command. The experience wasn’t over though, after the photoshoot we got to sit on the edge of a pool where the sea lions swam. This time we had a female swimming about in the water. The female was significantly smaller than the male, but she still weighed in around 300 pounds. She would swim about the edge of the pool and we could rub her belly, give her high fives, and pat her top side. She too just like the male was so responsive to her trainer and would jump, roll over and high five on command. Finally at the end of the experience they put the two sea lions, with their mother and they basically put on a show. They would dance on their hind flippers, clap their hands, twirl around and make noise to emulate singing. We couldn’t stop laughing and were constantly turning to each other and saying “These things are so freaking cool.” They helped fill our afternoon with laughter and amazement. We finished this encounter and were completely satisfied with our experience. All of that fun and we still had the dolphin experience to go! 

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Did you know that the normal color for a sea lions teeth is black? Unlike humans, when their teeth turn white it is a sign of infection or sickness! A little sea lion fact that we didn’t know and thought was interesting. Check out this guys big black teeth; they certainly appear to be healthy :)

Stay tuned for more information about our dolphin experience in part 2 of our Ocean World experience, coming to you tomorrow!