We sat in the darkened room, enjoying the ballet of the beluga whales on the other side of the glass, totally enchanted by their grace and playfulness.
I turned to the young attendant who had just stepped in to prepare the space for the upcoming show. “Is this a summer job for you or are you an intern?” I asked. “I’ve been working here the last three summers,” was the reply. We chatted about the beluga and how we missed the orcas that used to play in that space. “I’ve always wanted to work here,” she told me.
The show started and we had the best seat in the house. We were able to watch the trainers above ground on the TV screen but see the whales as they moved down below. At one point a trainer came to the glass where were sitting and slapped it to get the whale’s attention. She made large motions with her hands, moving them to the right and then the left. The whales responded by circling in front of us. Then the trainer slapped the glass again and left.
I sat on the bench with my sister and son watching the whales but also the children around me. A girl about 4 years old stood next to us, a butterfly tattoo painted on her cheek and her blond hair pulled to the side in a pig tail. She swept her hands to the right in the “away” motion of the trainer while she watched the beluga. When they turned in front of her, she moved her hands to the left and then motioned a “stay.” I was charmed, a future whale trainer.