Life with a higher porpoise (Photo at Seaworld by Chris Day)

Life with a higher porpoise (Photo at Seaworld by Chris Day)

(Published by The West Australian newspaper)

Commune with your “inner chicken” and make Seaworld your first choice on the list of theme parks at the Gold Coast.

A visit to Seaworld involves bodies flying through the air upside down, dramatic drops, plunges into water, and breakneck speeds.

The same is true of the other parks, but the advantage of Seaworld is that it is not you who has to do all these terrifying things. Rather, the job goes to animals that thrive on it all.

We know that a brief window of developmental madness hits guys between about 18 and 24. They will accept — and probably meet — any daredevil challenge. But there is one thing they can’t do– get basic premiums on insurance policies. Why? Two words: survival statistics.

Theme park operators kindly keep these lads away from endangering the general public by using a variety of pitches to lure them into their secular temples of fear.


For example, Wet’n’Wild touts for customers with this frightening threat: “Riders begin their wild journey on the unique Tornado super-slide from a 15-metre high platform, then blast down a 40-metre long tunnel into the middle of a storm.”

Just along the freeway from Wet’n’Wild, Movie World has this petrifying promise: “The awesome new Batwing Spaceshot is a rapid 4.5G vertical launch up a 60 metre tower, followed by a drop into a breathtaking negative descent – beyond freefall!”

A little further up the road and the spruikmasters at Dreamworld unleash this description of their pride and joy, the “Wipeout” ride:   “It is the mother of all tidal waves and you’re strapped in the middle without a life line.”

If by now you are deciding to choose lawn bowls instead of a theme park, read about our experience and think again.

Seal of approval

When we arrived at Seaworld, we took our seats in a stand to watch a show with the corny name “Quest for The Golden Seal.”

It didn’t take long for us to shed our veneer of jaded sophistication. We cheered and clapped at the antics of these animals. They seemed to tease their handlers, mimic their movements, and play to the crowd.

Their sheer power and control in the water made our Olympic heroes look ordinary. And unlike our swim teams they didn’t have to spend four hours a day staring at a black line underwater.


Feeling somewhat smug for getting an adrenalin boost without threatening life or limb, I then had to answer a tough challenge from a 21-year-old in our party. Would I go on the corkscrew roller coaster, the one “moderately” scary ride at the place? The implication was that if I didn’t accept I might  just as well apply for some sort of  premature senior status that signals readiness for a pension card, hot chocolate and a chaste kiss from a night nurse.

I took him up on the dare. The attendant locked me in before I could change my addled mind. I soon endured 30 seconds of being upside down and meeting my own backside approaching at full speed.

Shouting and screaming with a death rictus grin helped me alleviate the terror . The young thought I was roaring with joy like them. When I emerged shaken and stirred, I controlled my tremors to wave a condescending hand at my grinning contemporaries, who had wisely given it all a miss.


But the real climax of Seaworld was yet to come. It arrived with force and a beauty that made us all spontaneously gasp and applaud like the Barmy Army on steroids.

We were sitting in a stand, much like the one for the seal spectacular, and just staring at a large pool. We were waiting for somebody to arrive and announce that something was about to happen.

Then, without a word of warning, three huge and shiny dolphins erupted from the water and powered into the stratosphere before grinning at us and gracefully diving back into the deep.

The next 20 minutes packed in more spins, skills and hijinks than Warne in his prime. These were entertainers who made we humans feel truly humble. And they clearly needed no cruelty or excessive fish bribes to perform.

A dolphin duo rocketed along the surface just a metre apart. They   maintained a high level of cruise control as a 20-something guy rode them, one foot on each muscular back. Responding to an invisible command, the dolphins flicked their rider high in the air and were well out of the way as he dived back down.

This young man could choose to spend his time off work on the thrill machines at the other theme parks down the road. But you could bet he wouldn’t bother.

Nothing in the man-made universe can compete with nature’s athletes at their finest.


Michael Day paid for his own admission ticket to Seaworld. He is not related to the dolphins.