Redondo & Venice Piers, & Sneaking Into Marineland

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Posted by Dave on May 12, 2009 at 18:01:54:

SeaHunt's post about seeing bonito from the Redondo Pier and growing up around the Venice Pier reminds me of more cool stuff when I grew up in the MdR area. Thanks for the memories SeaHunt.

Of course Venice was always eclectic in a harmless, Bohemian sort of way. For about a year, the area just north of the Venice Pavillion became a defacto nude beach in the 70's. Of course, as a hormone crazed but always cool about it 14 year old, it was my duty to observe flagrant nudity law violators in case I ever needed to report it. So off I would go with my towel and suntan lotion, AND beach shorts, lol, hoping to spot teen to twenty something coltish surfer girls in flagrante delicto. Do you know traumatizing it is to an impressionable male teen psyche to have to sift through the visual assault of 50 fat hairy guys, and 1 fat hairy women emulating the gravitationally induced mammarian skin tension of a tribal National Geographic expose', just to see 1 one lithe quasi-hippie chick?! Oh the Humanity!

Like how most violence tolerating Western societies do to control people, at some point the police decided that anything remotely associated with human pleasure was something the government could not tolerate, so they put the clamps on that after 6 months. Another sordid, oops, I mean storied chapter in Venice history bites the dust.

I was at the Venice pier the other day when some cretin was hauling up a 10lb black sea bass. The bastard was using a roped gaff to do it, and you could tell he knew it was a protected Black Sea Bass. I was livid. He threw the evidence back probably to die before I could beat him senseless, then rat him out. Maybe that is an example of where we wish we could communicate with and to apologize to animals for our violent, senseless cruelty. :(

I remember I used to ride my bike from MdR to the Redondo Pier, prior to the fire, and right in the inside pier bay I would see a school of bonito some times. I liked to stare at the live shrimp in the holding tanks at the Asian restaurants as they were also amazing animals. I would daydream about liberating all of them to return to where they belonged. It is ashamed we have to eat magnificent things that were once alive to live.

I once rode from MdR one Sunday afternoon along the bike path past the Redondo pier, and made my way to Marineland. It was closed by the time I got there.

I was familiar with the whole area because my stepmom used to take my brother and I to the Palos Verdes tidepools there. We were too chicken to snorkel there as it was always rough and I was just 9 or 10 and was scared of the water anyway.

So I snuck into Marineland and made my way through and stumbled into the outdoor penguin display area. It was just a low rope and so I didn't freak them out, I slowly hopped over it right into the middle of about 20 penguins.

If I slowly reached over, they would not let me touch them in any way, and they were relatively quick about avoiding me, although I was there to enjoy them on their terms, not mine, nor to stress them out. I found out right away they did want to bite my hands to see what it was made of. And their exploratory yet incessant nibbles were pretty painful! If I stretched the skin on my palms taught, they couldn't get a chunk of it enough to inflict pain, but it sufficiently distracted them, so as long as they were busy nibbling away, they would ignore me petting their backs. What amazing animals they were!

I later made my way over to a rather large dolphin holding pool. It was dark for sure, but even though I silently walked over to the waist high concrete sides, the dolphins all sensed I was there. The larger adults came over right away, and they brought their entourage of floating toy balls.

They had 3 means of getting me the ball, all with amazing accuracy. Either they would flip it to me with their snouts from about 20 feet away, with deadly accuracy, they would push it right up to me, or they would grab the ball and take it underwater, push it horizontal, and deep below me, release it to come popping up right in front of me. They never missed. We think we have them trained to retrieve balls, like we think we have dogs trained to fetch sticks, but dolphins and dogs probably smirk to each other how they have humans trained to throw balls and sticks if they are brought to humans. Maybe we are just another symbiotic relationship to them like clownfish are to anemones.....

I threw those balls for about an hour in the pouring rain with just a t shirt and bike shorts on. I was too excited to know I was freezing.

The mother dolphins came up to me a few minutes after the larger ones. They almost immediately rolled over for belly scratches. Then once they had their brief fill, the same mother dolphins left, and returned with their baby dolphins in tow. The baby dolphins also wanted the belly scratching treatment, and I was happy to oblige. I suppose the mother dolphins either wanted to make sure I was not a threat, or wanted to make sure by dolphin belly scratching technique was competent. By the admittedly permanent smiles on all their faces, I guess I passed muster.

I had to hide a few times when the security guards made their rounds, but I had already perfected sneaking into theaters as a 12 year old, so they were easy marks.

I am not sure what it is about the unique human experience where we want to touch wild animals. Why? Why do we wish we could communicate with them? What do we want to say? "We're sorry!"? Not every human is bad"? "We are amazed about you!"? What can we do to help"?

What I wouldn't have given to have been able to jump into that giant pool and swim with the dolphins like I used to see on the show Flipper.

At a later date, I was intrigued enough to return once again, broke again of course. I made my way down the zig/zag Palos Verdes walking path to the shore, hiked southwards along the rocks, and eventually made my way to an apparent seal/sea lion observation point. I didn't know that was there. Like Moe, Larry and Curley of the Three Stooges walking backwards past the guard, I put my back to the Marineland attendees behind the heavy nautical style rope, and slowly backed to within about 10 feet of the Marineland property. Within just a few minutes, a security guard showed up and yelled at me; "Hey! Get back in here! You can't be out there!" It certainly wasn't the response I was expecting, so I expeditiously decided this was going to be the rare occasional where I obey rather than questioned authority. In fact I was all too happy to instantly oblige! Hey, I was just following orders! I ended up staying the rest of the day there.

Now days kids are raised on Mortal Combat, gangster rap, and Playstation 3. They are not exposed like we were to nature, adventure, the outdoors and all that is magnificent about our planet.

Ok, so I have a Playstation 3 too, but I use it to play HD Blu-Ray discs like "The Living Sea", "Coral Reef Adventure", "Ocean Oasis", "Dolphins" and "Visions of the Sea".

Maybe if I put together enough of my HD footage, I can take it to local schools and offer free presentations. Even in "the hood" maybe I'll just contemporize it with background music that is a sampled rap backbeat. Hey, if Tupac Shakur can pay homage to Elton Johns eery "Indian Sunset"!

Wouldn't that be nice to show school kids what we were privileged enough to grow up around and see, to show and tell them of an era where because of us, or in spite of ourselves, we can once again come within touching distance of gentle black giants, even if they can't grow up near the beach, scuba dive or sneak into Marineland as a kid.

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