The tour started with a little show that was put on by a tour guide with two seals. Since the seals were dark grey and the water was pretty dark, Sadie was having a hard time seeing them, so I brought her right up to the edge of the deck so that she could watch. After a few seconds she noticed the seals swimming around and she started following them with her eyes. She looked pretty happy watching them and we weren't really all that close because the deck is raised and set back a short distance.
A few minutes into the "show" portion (when the two seals were doing tricks) one of the seals jumped out of the water to hit a white ball hanging from a rope with his nose.
I expected Sadie to smile or laugh.
Instead the entire group heard a piercing scream of pure terror. Sadie burst into tears and started to cry hysterically.
It took about a minute to get Sadie calmed down and then she cuddled Nani and hung back at the very furthest edge of the crowd, where the seals looked smaller and much less frightening. And then the seal trainer started to talk. She was trying to convince the seals to come out of the water, but they didn't seem to think that this was a great idea (they finally did come out). She explained that the seals, particularly Scully the seal that had jumped out of the water, were afraid of loud noises. I suddenly felt like I'd brought a screaming baby in to church (a feeling that's not entirely unfamiliar).
The tour went on. Sadie loved the sharks and gurgled at them and reached out her chubby little hands. She thought the moray eels were great and the perch were hilarious in their little schools. She even reached out her hand and grabbed the slimiest looking starfish in the entire place.
Amazingly the fact that the seals had been startled came up two more times during our tour. Yikes! Way to make us feel welcome!
I would still like to take Sadie back when she's a bit older because there are so many fun things to see!