The Pompous Porpoise and the Wallflower Whale: A SeaWorld Saga

Posted by - April 3, 2012 | Category: Escapes, North America, United States

SeaWorld Orlando: Dolphins vs. Whales

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this post when I first starting out as a travel blogger and before I had even considered places like SeaWorld are not really the best environment for captive animals, so I can’t with a good conscience recommend visiting SeaWorld or any other marine park that keeps captive mammals. You’re an adult though, so I’ll let you decide that for yourself. Just do me a favour, watch the documentary Blackfish so you can make an informed decision before you go. Hopefully it will change your mind. 

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There’s something vaguely smug about dolphins. That eternal smirk. Those DiCaprio-esque dimples. That glossy coat. Is it even called a coat? Probably not. In any case, they are just too shiny. Too smarmy. Too…perfect. That’s it. They’re too perfect.

They’ve got to be up to something.

If you look closely, this fella even has a sparkle on his forehead.

How is that even possible?

Dophin in Dolphin pool at SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

If the dolphin is the Leonardo DiCaprio of the deep, its cohort at the Blue Horizons Show at SeaWorld Orlando – the false killer whale – is more like a young Lyle Lovett. Unquestionably talented. Cringingly disproportionate. And oh-so British in the teeth department.

Toss in a face only a mother, or Julia Roberts (or a hungry Eskimo) could love, and you’ve got a beast that’s got underdog written all over it.

Whale at SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

Still, everyone loves an underdog. And I am no exception. So when Aeroplan gave me a ticket to check out SeaWorld Orlando, I headed over to the Whale and Dolphin Theater to watch these two mammoth talents go head-to-head. Or snout-to-snout.

I’m calling this one Leo vs. Lyle.

Leonardo Di Caprio dimples


The backdrop for this mammalian match is the Blue Horizons set, designed by the same chap who did Beauty and the Beast on Broadway.

Blue Horizons set -- SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

The show kicks off with some A Whole New World-ish type music and a vague plot of a girl who discovers something or other about the sea. Or is it the sky? Or maybe it’s both. I can’t recall. In any case, later there will be acrobats and exotic birds to distract you.

But it’s the bottlenose dolphins and the false killer whales that everyone, including me, is here to see.

First up are the dolphins.


Trainer-feeding-dolphins-SeaWorld-Orlando-Florida-Aeroplan-Welcome-Aboard-Event.jpgI could have sworn I heard this guy shouting, “I’m the king of the world!”

dolphin standing wiggling on tail -- Blue Horizons Show at Whale and Dolphin Theater -- SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

Smug little bastard.

There are the requisite jumps and splashes. Sometimes solo…

Dolphin working hard for the money -- Blue Horizons Show at Whale and Dolphin Theater -- SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

…sometimes in unison.

Dolphins jumping in unison -- SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event


The only time I feel bad for these pompous porpoises is when a trainer sewn into a dolphin-coloured wetsuit straddles a couple and takes ‘em for a ride.

Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.

I mean, who would want to be seen with anyone wearing an outfit like that?

Trainer riding dolphins -- SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard

Still, the crowds ate it up.

Female-trainer-riding-false-killer-whale-SeaWorld-Orlando-Florida-Aeroplan-Welcome-Aboard-.jpgThe false killer whales were not spared the embarrassment either.


But our pal Lyle gets his revenge – eventually flinging Little Miss Too Much Makeup into the heavens.




False killer whale and female trainer toss and dive -- SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

Okay that bit is part of the act, but still, I can’t help but feel the whale derived some sort of gratification by tossing her skyward. I know I would.

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Lyle certainly looks like he’s celebrating.


False-killer-whale-doing-backflip-at-SeaWorld-Orlando-Florida-Aeroplan-Welcome-Aboard-Event.jpgSo who wins? Leo or Lyle?

It’s just a show people. Let’s not try to read too much into it.

Beached false killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando Florida -- Aeroplan Welcome Aboard Event

Although I do believe the trainer in pink did mouth the words, “Leo’s got nothing on you Lyle.”

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Note: I was a guest of Aeroplan during my time in Orlando.

UPDATE: December, 2014. After watching the documentary Blackfish, I highly recommend using your Aeroplan reward points to secure tickets for Orlando attractions other than SeaWorld. 

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35 comments - add one
  1. Congratulations, you managed to insult the British, Julia Roberts, hungry Eskimos and the entire Dolphin population while making me shoot my drink out my nose from laughing so hard. Great post man.

  2. “false” killer whales? Huh? I’ve never even heard of such. Being from the PNW (Seattle) I’m quite familiar with “true” killer whales (orcas) – black and white, not all dark like your “false” whales (and I day say better teeth, as well) 😉

    Actually, (sigh…) your muttering this morning forced (I say, FORCED) me to tiresomely Google these upstart creatures posing as TRUE killer whales, and… I discovered two highly intriguing additional facts:

    1. false killers and orcas are (surprisingly) “not closely related”; and

    2. Apparently “A false killer whale and a bottlenose dolphin mated in captivity and produced a fertile calf.[3] The hybrid offspring has been called a ‘wholphin’.”

    So question izzz… did you happen to see any little “wholphins” frolicking about?

    1. Hee hee — I had to Google “false killer whales” too, just to be sure SeaWorld knew what they were talking about. 🙂

      Alas, the wholphin was born at San Diego’s SeaWorld and not the one in Orlando.

  3. BAHAHAHA… I’m dying here – DiCaprio-esque dimples, Leo vs Lyle, Miss Too Much Makeup – it’s pure genius. Congratulations, you’ve managed to make me want to see such a showdown. What a hoot!

  4. I CANNOT believe you called dolphins smarmy. And I bet you photoshopped that sparkle in, amirite? Harumph. 😉

    1. Thanks Eileen — I actually used just the “action” setting on my Pentax. But I have a decent zoom lens and I shoot in RAW format to get better quality. 🙂

  5. I live in Vancouver. We have lots of orca whales here.

    However, I’d like to say that I recently learned about what it really means for these animals to be in captivity and how the end up there – not fun.

    I like to look at them, but I feel bad for them to be not free.



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