Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
The indomitable and implacable Travelling Gourmet TM goes to an integrated resort to experience one of its premier attractions and gets…
MAULED by a Killer dolphin named TULA! HAVE YOU EVER BEEN BITTEN BY A DOLPHIN? I have. It is bloody painful! Not something you want to volunteer for. Let me tell you what happened…
Sunday 14 August, 2016
Location: Dolphin Island, Adventure Cove in Resorts World Sentosa.
Attraction: Dolphin Encounter
- I went to the reception and showed my ticket. Going in I had to put my camera, my Panama hat and my titanium Breitling watch in Locker number 14. So there I was with nothing except for my swim trunks and T shirt. As good as naked. They have a total of 27 dolphins and even dolphin babies called calves are born here and well cared for. Dolphins are Mammals and NOT fish.
- I waited around with a group of tourists. From their heavily accented Mandarin rolling the “r” sound, I knew they were from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). We were all shepherded into a Briefing/Orientation Room. A petite and pretty tanned Chinese Singaporean girl in black swimwear gave the briefing in English, while a tall PRC girl with an attractive short & sassy hairstyle and great legs gave a very noisy “American” style “RaRa” briefing to the large group of PRC tourists. The PRC tourists had put on wetsuits. We were told we did not need wetsuits as we were going for the “Dolphin Encounter” attraction. The PAP (pretty and petite) Chinese girl showed us a grey blue cuddly toy dolphin to demo to us where we could touch the dolphin, and where we could not touch the dolphin. I learned that the eyes and the mouth and the blowhole which is the nose of the dolphin are ‘taboo’ zones. After all would you like to be poked in your eyes? The belly of the dolphin that is the navel and the genitalia are also off limits being very sensitive. The dorsal fin on the dolphin’s back is OK and also the pectoral fins. That done, we were off to the big pools where the dolphins were swimming about. There were just four of us. Myself and a Bruneian gentleman and his wife and baby son who was about one to one and a half years old by my reckoning. The Brunei lady was clad from head to toe in a voluminous, shapeless brown and beige pant suit and wore the Muslim “tudong” aka head scarf. “Well at least, she is not in an all black Burka with head covered except for the eyes like a Ninja on an assassination mission.” I thought to myself.
- We went to a pool and met the trainer, a young muscular PRC man with a spiky haircut holding a bucket with fishy treats like capelin/sardines and squid on ice in a green bucket marked “WaWa”in white paint. WaWa is the name of he dolphin under his charge. He soon realised that the Bruneian family only spoke Malay and English and not Huayi or Mandarin. Hence it was decided for the four of us to go meet Britney the American girl. Better for communication.
- 16:54 I found out that Britney was from Oregon. “That’s good.” I thought. I have had lots of bad experiences with New Yorkers and people from the West Coast are usually nicer and not stuck up. One woman in particular named Arlyn B. who married and divorced 4 husbands and lives now with No. 5 but not married to him. I asked Britney, “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” seeing as there is ‘Election Fever in the USA. Britney replied chuckling, “I’m neither…but there is one person I won’t vote for, Donald Trump.” A friendly Malay trainer laid out rectangular blue mats by the edge of the pool. The Brunei family were dressed like they were going for a ‘Kenduri’ ‘(Malay wedding feast) and were not in swimwear. We sat down and Britney called TULA the dolphin over with her slim pen like steel whistle which emits sounds only dolphins can hear. It was slung round her neck on a lanyard. Tula appeared as pert and curvaceous Britney was in the pool with the water up to her bosom. I was feeling hot and I asked her, “Can I please come into the pool with you?” The sun was burning and the almost cloudless skies gave no shade. It must have been 34C (Tsk! Tsk! what were you thinking!)
- Britney smiled, “You can’t come in the pool but you can put your legs in the water up to the knee.” I sat down and dangled my feet in the cool water. At least I felt a bit cooler despite the hot sun. I felt calm and relaxed, at peace with the world. Britney made Tula perform his repertoire of tricks like “standing in the water”, leaping up 4 meters high out of the water and doing a back flip and more. We were very impressed and clapped enthusiastically. Without warning, TULA attacked and bit my toes. It was painful, very painful. Knowing animal behaviour, I did not make a sound or scream and kept still. If I had screamed and tried to pull my toes out, it would have triggered a primeval impulse in TULA to clamp down and bite harder! Once TULA the homicidal dolphin had swum swiftly away I pulled both legs out immediately. Two deep woulds from Tula’s razor sharp teeth were bleeding venous blood. You can tell by the deep red color. Dolphins have 80 to 100 conical razor sharp teeth! I would show pictures of my wounds but they might upset those of more delicate sensibilities. Just use your imagination…
- Britney was oblivious to my wounds and kept telling the Brunei family about dolphins, and made TULA do tricks like make clicking sounds through his blow hole. Stoically, I bore the pain. As my good friend once told me, “…pain let’s you know you’re alive. when you’re dead you feel nothing.” I showed Britney again my bleeding, bloody toe. This time she called someone on her walkie-talkie. It took some 20 minutes before Lemuel the Filipino nurse came to give first aid and attend to my painful wounds. Twenty minutes is a long time for First Aid to come.
Russell Morgan the Manager of Dolphin Island came to see me and my wounds and to ask how it happened. I told him. Life is really like that scene in “The Count of Monte Cristo” where Monsieur Le Comte de Monte Cristo tells his son, “Life is a storm…”
When you are subjected to an unprovoked attack for whatever reason, you are apt to feel angry and upset. Just like the USA in WW2 when Japan attacked the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour without warning. I started to feel angry and somehow thought of that classic black comedy movie “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”
The moral of the story is that like in a good spy movie, nothing is what it seems. After watching too much “Flipper” on TV I thought that dolphins are kind, cuddly, harmless , friendly creatures like Winnie the Pooh.
Well, as Rick Blaines, played to perfection by Humphrey Bogart in Oscar winning movie. Casablanca 1942, explained to Capt. Renault, Prefect of Police why he came to Casablanca….”I was misinformed.”
Dear loyal readers, my advice to you is do not go and play with the dolphins in Resorts World Sentosa…you might meet another killer dolphin like TULA…When I told my good friend, charming Andreana Soh, the Director of Public Relations of the 5 Star Regent Hotel, Andreana had this to say, ” I don’t suppose dolphins in captivity can be very happy and maybe the reason why their behaviour is different from what they are known for. I do hope your foot is alright though!” Her kind comments are very much appreciated.
From The Straits Times of August 24, 2016
>>Elsewhere, Seaworld Orlando, a theme park in the US, has stopped public feeding of dolphins after a few children were bitten while feeding or petting the dolphins.
Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) executive director Louis Ng said there is always a risk in letting people come in touch with wild animals.
“Dolphins’ teeth are sharp, and they are hunters in the wild. Even if they are playing, they can inflict harm,” he said.<<
“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” << Dr. David Banner aka The Incredible Hulk
Adventure Cove Waterpark
Resorts World Sentosa
8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island
I conclude with one of my personal mottos: Was dich nicht umbringt, macht dich nur noch staerke und kluge. (In German, what does not kill you makes you stronger and smarter.)