Is it better to see orcas in the wild or a marine park?

Is it better to see orcas in the wild or at a marine park?

The answer isn’t simple.

Recently that was the debate in a Facebook group that I’m a part of.

Marine parks have always been a subject of controversy.

Marine parks, on one hand, provide entertainment and education but on the other hand, they exploit marine life and disturb their natural behavior.

There were many answers. Some said it was that the person going to marine parks was uneducated about how the orcas were being treated at the park or the person was selfish.

Before I answered the question, I thought about what to say.

When I was in elementary school, my parents took my brother and I to Florida. My parents knew how much I loved the orca. I wanted to be an oceanographer when I was little. We ended up going to Sea World to see the orca show. I do remember that I was excited at the time.

After doing my research and seeing documentaries on how the orcas are treated, I made a vow with myself that I wouldn’t go to a marine park again.

My dad passed away recently and I was going through all the photo albums. I happened to come across the pictures of the vacation that we took to Sea World in Florida. I do remember I used to love those pictures when I was little, but now those pictures made me a little sad. I do forgive myself because I didn’t know how the orcas were treated back then.

Despite all the negative stigmas, some people still continue to support marine parks by going to the shows, buying tickets, and sharing their marine park experiences online.

One reason is that going to a marine park, guarantees that you will see marine life.

I remember one whale watching captain saying to me that in whale watching there is no guarantee that you will see any marine life. He said that this is nature and not Sea World, the animals are here to feed and not to entertain you.

When I became a travel nurse, I wanted to only go to states that I had a chance to go whale watching. I started in Florida thinking that there would be whales there. There were a lot of dolphins but no whales.

I started to do research about orca seasons in different areas. I found out that in California, you could whale watch all the time. One town in particular had an orca season. It was called Monterey Bay. Orca season is April and May and it’s known as Killer Whale Thanksgiving.

I immediately started to look for jobs that were near Monterey Bay. I found a job near Los Angeles. I found out that I could take a train to get to Monterey from Los Angeles. I also found a whale watching company in Newport Beach that was operating year round.

The first thing that I did when I got to my job was to go whale watching in Los Angeles. I didn’t see anything when I went. I was disappointed but I wouldn’t give up. Someone told me that to see the whales, I needed to go to Newport Beach.

I did some research and found a company that I liked. It wasn’t far from where I was working, so I decided to go at least once a week. I got to know the crew very well.

As I started to go whale watching, I started to see more whales and dolphins.

One time, I had a day off. I was tired so I didn’t go whale watching that day. I happened to see on the news that night, that there had been orcas in Newport Beach. To say I was sad was an understatement.

The crew knew that orcas were my favorite animal. I did get to see all their videos. They got to see the orcas on all of their trips that day.

But like the captain said there is no guarantee. That uncertainty may lead some people to go to a marine park where you are guaranteed to see marine life.

When I finally had 3 days in a row off from work, I decided to go to Monterey Bay. It was orcas season and I was excited to see orcas in the wild for the first time.

I took the Amtrak train to get to Monterey Bay.

I only had 2 days because I wanted to make it back to Los Angeles on my third day. The first 2 days, we only saw humpback whales. While I was grateful that we were seeing some whales, I really wanted to see orcas.

After the second day, I had to make some decisions. I changed my train ticket and had to find another Airbnb to stay in. I was determined to see orcas. I also asked the whale watching company if there was any space on the next days whale watching trip. At the time, there were no more spaces.

I was disappointed but she said that there may be some cancellations in the morning.

I woke up early and waited for that phone call. At 7:05 am, I got the call. There had been a cancellation and I had a spot.

On this very day, April 21, 2018, my dreams came true. I got to see orcas in the wild!! It is my 5 year orcaversary!!

Most people also don’t know that if you don’t see any marine life on a whale watching tour, the company will give you a voucher. The voucher will either be a free whale watching tour or a heavy discount for your next whale watching tour.

Another reason that people may choose marine parks is convenience. Every body doesn’t have the luxury to extend their vacation like I did. It can be difficult and expensive to plan a whale watching tour, especially if you don’t live near the ocean.

Marine parks do provide a chance to see multiple species, which might be impossible to do while whale watching.

Also for families with young kids, whale watching might not be an option, making marine parks more convenient for them.

There are also ethical concerns about marine parks.

Orcas are very social animals. They live in matriarchal societies. Some male orcas don’t leave their mother until their death. In some research, if a mother orca dies, the son may die soon after.

In captivity, they are confined to small pools and forced to perform for their food. They are made to do the same thing day after day. The stress can lead to health issues, mental issues, and even premature death.

Each of us have a choice and a decision to make by weighing the pros and cons of going to a marine park. Find a marine park that upholds high standards of animal welfare. Look for parks that prioritize conservation, education, and research.

If you are planning a whale watching tour, be aware that there are no guarantees of seeing marine life. To me that is what makes whale watching special. If you see any marine life, then it was meant to be.

Even when I don’t see any marine life when I go whale watching, I can still enjoy a day at sea.

In conclusion, the reasons why people choose to go to marine parks are complex and varied. It’s not fair to judge or condemn someone for their choices. It’s very important to have honest and open discussions about the ethics of keeping orcas in captivity. By understanding the reasons behind our choices, we can make informed decisions and work towards a future where orcas are protected and respected.

What’s Next

My dream job is over.

Covid created some unique jobs and now the cruise ship job is over.

I’m asking myself,

What’s next?

I’m grateful that I had my job as a covid swabber on a cruise ship. It allowed me to work all over the world.

My dream job taught me a lot about what I want in my next job.

Now that I’m back at home, I’m taking a pause to think about what my dream job taught me and what is the next job that I want to have.

I love being around water. I loved waking up on the ocean. I loved being able to go different places. I loved having free time every day to do what I wanted to do. I loved having an easy job that didn’t have a lot of stress. I loved cruising. I loved getting paid to travel the world.

I know that I want my next job, not to be in a hospital. I used to love being a bedside nurse, but that love has faded in the past few years. Bedside nursing can’t provide me with any of the things that I know I love to do.

As I’m looking for healthcare jobs, I’m finding that most promise some good things but in reality, they can’t deliver those good things.

One job stated to apply if you wanted a work/life balance. In the very next paragraph, it stated you needed to be available to work mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays.

I asked myself if being available that much would really create a work/life balance and the answer was no. Even though this job was 10 minutes away and it was 8-hour shifts.

Most nursing jobs in the hospital, don’t allow you to make your own schedule. Even though you only work 3 days a week, you can’t really choose which days that you work.

In my experience, even if you have enough PTO saved up, the hospital can still deny your vacation request.

What will I do next?

I figure that I’ll get a job and also get my photographer’s license while I’m working. Once I have my license, I will build my portfolio and look for a job with a whale watching company in California or become a nature photographer.

I’m forever grateful for what nursing has provided me with. I think that it is time to go in a different direction with my career.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post on Instagram asking for a photographer to go to Antartica and photograph killer whales for a year. I got so excited because I would love to do that. I love killer whales! I wanted to be an oceanographer when I was little.

The only reason I didn’t apply is because of the requirements for the job. You had to be able to swim and shoot a gun. Two things that I can’t do yet. I plan to take swimming lessons and go to the gun range to learn. That way when or if that opportunity comes up again, I can apply and know that I can swim and fire a gun.

That excitement let me know where my heart truly lies in a career. I want a job that excites me and not a job that kills my spirit every day.

One of my Worst Nightmares

Last week, I had one of my worst nightmares come true.

I went hiking, and as I was getting out of the car, I had this feeling that something bad was going to happen. I ignored the feeling because I really wanted to hike. I needed to be out in nature, and I needed to exercise.

As I was hiking, I was being careful. I thought the feeling meant that maybe I was going to fall and hurt myself. So, I was being very careful where I stepped and was going slow.

Towards the end of my hike, I took the road down the mountain. There were more people on the road than the nature trail, so I figured I would be safer with more people around. That feeling that something bad was going to happen wasn’t going away, it was getting stronger.

I was about 5 minutes from the parking lot and being done with my hike, when one of my worst nightmares happened.

I looked down and about 5 feet from my feet, there was a small snake.

I almost broke my ankle trying to run away.

I don’t know how I didn’t see it before then and there were people that were in front of me that didn’t see it either.

I guess I looked so freaked out that a man asked what was wrong with me. I told him about the snake, and he said that they come out at this time of day to feed.

I have been hiking at this mountain for years, and never seen one before then.

To say I was scared was an understatement. I hate snakes.

He walked with me a little way, until I calmed down.

I just couldn’t believe that I was that close to a snake. Thankfully I didn’t get bitten.

I usually go hiking at that mountain twice a week. I was so scared to go back because of what happened, but I also wanted to hike.

I gave myself four days to process what happened.

Five days after the incident, I went back to the mountain and went hiking.

I didn’t have that feeling that something bad was going to happen. I was more vigilant about my surroundings. I even saw a deer this time. I was nervous but by the end of the hike, I was relaxed.

I never want a repeat of what happened that day. From now on when I hike, I’m going to be more vigilant.

If I ever have that feeling again, I will listen to it. I will go home and hike another day. Maybe use the elliptical machine that day.

I am glad that I didn’t let one of my worst nightmares, scare me away from hiking again. I love to go hiking.

At least I know that my intuition works, even if I didn’t listen to it.

Have you ever known something was going to happen and you didn’t listen to your intuition? Or maybe you did listen.


About 2 weeks ago, I was supposed to be flying to Italy.

Unfortunately, I got a text message around midnight the night before I was supposed to fly out, saying that my plans were cancelled.

I know that everything happens for a reason.

There is one good thing that came out of this situation.

My belly button piercing hasn’t been doing good at all lately. I developed an infection and then after that went away, a bump developed. It looked like my body was rejecting the piercing.

When I had the infection, the doctor said to take out the piercing. I didn’t do it because I wanted to keep my piercing. After the infection went away, the piercing was looking better until I wore some high waisted pants and it got really irritated.

The next day, a bump appeared. The skin started to shrink.

Two weeks ago, I had to take out the piercing because it looked like it was about to fall out on its own.

My plan was to go to a tattoo shop in Italy and see what could be done about the piercing. I don’t know how I was going to make it through the flight with my piercing still in. One good yank or if it got snagged on my clothing, the piercing was going to come out.

I went to a tattoo shop that was close to my parent’s house.

The tattoo artist looked at the piercing and said that it did need to come out. He made a plan for me and hopefully in 2 weeks I can get another belly button piercing. That all depends on what the old piercing site looks likes in 2 weeks.

I’m glad that I didn’t have to go to a tattoo shop in Italy. I had really wanted to go to one around my parent’s house. If I needed any medications, some of those medications may not have been available in Italy.

I found out the hard way, when I went to the United Kingdom that some medications that are over the counter in the United States, are not over the counter in the United Kingdom.

I’m just glad that I have a plan now on how to take care of my belly button piercing and hopefully will have another piercing in 2 weeks. This time I will follow all the aftercare instructions. I see what can happen when I don’t follow the instructions.

I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I also believed that I would make it to Greece next month.

I had already purchased a tour, and I didn’t cancel it.

I had been feeling a little bit stressed out because my company didn’t have any ships to put me on for the rest of the month. Thankfully I have a PRN job that I can pick up shifts at.

Yesterday I was playing Monopoly online and I was losing.

I had bought a lot of houses and hotels, but I had landed on chance and gotten the card that says you have to pay maintenance on your houses and hotels twice. I went from having over $4,000 to having a little over $400.

Then one roll changed it all.

My competitor landed on the space that had my hotel on it and from there on it was all downhill for my competitor. I ended up winning the game. Even though, I thought after I dropped down to $400, I was going to lose.

I had a thought after that, that my life can change for the better with one choice or decision.

Today, I got a call, and my company had a ship for me.

I’ll be going to Israel and Greece!!

I won’t have to cancel my tour. I just have to reschedule the date.

I’m thankful that I didn’t give up and stop asking my company for a spot.

Everything happens for a reason.


Sticks and stones, may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

That was a saying that I learned when I was little.

When I first learned it, I believed it.

Now, I know that the saying wasn’t true.

Words can hurt you. Maybe not physically like sticks and stones. They can certainly hurt you emotionally.

I recently had someone tease me about not being one hundred percent black. I know she didn’t mean any harm by it, but it still hurt. Some of the things that were said, were the same things that I had heard from kids growing up about not being black enough.

I wish I could say that those words didn’t hurt anymore, but they did.

I wish I was at a point where I didn’t allow those words to hurt me but I’m not.

I’m forty years old and some things can still hurt me emotionally.

I’ve also had someone in my life, say that if you forgive someone then you should also forget what happened.

I’ve forgiven the people in my past, that said those things about me not being black enough. But I also can’t forget.


I don’t want to forget how they made me feel because I don’t want anybody to feel that way. By not forgetting that feeling, it helps me to be mindful of my words and actions. I don’t want to be the cause of anybody feeling how I felt in those moments of being called not black enough.

I know that people choose how they feel. No one can make you feel anything.

Being mean to people isn’t good for anybody. Saying mean things to people because of their heritage isn’t right. I can’t help the family that I was born into or my ancestors.

I appreciate all the people that came together to make me.

Words are very powerful.

They can hurt when not used properly. They can also uplift you.

I’m just going to be mindful of the words that I say and write.

Sticks and stones may break my bones and words can really hurt me.

Sometimes Listening is Hard to Do

Today, I landed in London.

My plan was to check into the hotel early and get a shower and then go see Stonehenge.

My plane landed at 6:30am and I had booked a tour that was at 8:30am.

I was hoping to get some sleep on the airplane. That didn’t happen at all. I was supposed to have the whole row to myself but there were some people that were flying stand by. So, both the seats next to me got taken at the last minute. I wasn’t able to lay down. It was also too noisy for me to sleep. I got about 2 hours of sleep.

I got to the hotel around 7:30am and they unfortunately didn’t have a room for me to check-in early.

I could have gone to the restroom and changed my clothes and freshened up.

I just didn’t feel like rushing.

So, I decided to listen to my body.

Sometimes listening to your body is hard to do.

It was a really hard decision to make because I really wanted to see Stonehenge.

I knew that if I went on the tour, I was going to have a very long day. The tour was 10 hours long. Hopefully I can get a refund.

I already had a long day. I didn’t get a room until 12pm. So, I sat in the lobby for about 4 and a half hours trying not to go to sleep. My flight had been 15 hours long.

Sometimes doing the right thing is hard.

I don’t know when I’m going to have another chance to go see Stonehenge. Maybe after my contract is over, I can stay a couple of days and then go see Stonehenge.

Do I regret my decision?

A little bit. I really did want to go but my body was just so tired after the day of traveling that I had just done.

I rested on and off the whole day which is exactly what my body needed. I feel so refreshed right now. I know that I wouldn’t have felt that way if I had gone on the tour.

In the end, I am glad that I listened to my body even though it was a hard decision.

Have you ever made a decision that was the right thing, but was really hard to make?

I know that I have seen my family make some decisions that were the right thing but was a hard decision to make.

Putting a loved one into a nursing home is a very hard decision to make. When that person needs 24-hour care and no one in the family can do it, then it becomes necessary to do the right thing for that loved one.

I saw firsthand how hard that decision was for my father. It was the right decision. No one in the family could stop working and be home with her.

I recently had to make a hard decision.

My belly button piercing got infected.

I went to the doctor.

The doctor recommended that I take out the belly button ring. The doctor said that it could turn into a bad wound and then my belly button would be messed up for life.

I listened to the doctor’s advice, but I also really wanted to keep my piercing.

I just got it in April, and I have come to love it.

I decided to keep it in.

The piercing is healing well now.

While I do recommend listening to your doctor, sometimes it helps to listen to your body.

I didn’t know for sure that my piercing was going to heal. I was nervous to leave it in because the doctor had said to take it out.

In the end, I made the best decision for me. I really had wanted to keep my piercing and if in the future I need to take it out, I will make the best decision for myself.

Turning the Big 4 0

Someone recently asked me how I feel because I’m about turn 40.

I told him that I feel great. This is the best that I’ve felt in my whole life.

If you had told me how my life was going to be when I was about to turn 40, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Ten years ago, I was depressed, battling an eating disorder, and I didn’t love myself. I avoided conflict and didn’t like to speak up for myself. I turned my life around by getting a life coach and working on my issues.

I recently had to have a hard conversation with someone. I messed up and I knew that I was going to have to tell this man what happened. I was so nervous that this man was going to say he didn’t want to speak to me anymore. I knew that I had to tell him what happened. As soon as I could, I had a face-to-face conversation with him. He ended up forgiving me and still wanting to talk to me.

The old Shavawn wouldn’t have been able to do that. I probably would have just ghosted the man because I just would have assumed that he wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore because of what I had done.

This new Shavawn talked about what happened and was honest with this man. I was able to communicate what I did and what I wanted. I’m excited to see what happens with this man.

I also told this man something that I’ve never said to anyone else.

I told him we can get to know each other and see where it goes.

I’m a relationship kind of woman. I love being in a relationship. I don’t like dating. Usually when I meet a guy that I like, I like to get into a relationship quickly and then we can get to know each other.

I decided to try something new this time. Because getting into a relationship quickly hasn’t been working for me. Maybe taking my time to get to know the guy before we get into a relationship will work this time.

I’m proud of most of the choices that I have made so far that lead me to this life.

Right now, I can say I love myself and I know myself. I finally have become the woman that I saw in my dreams. That woman was happy with her body and happy with herself.

I lost 50 pounds over 6 years ago, and I have kept it off. I found a lifestyle that I can maintain and doesn’t restrict me. I can eat a piece of cake if I want to. The difference now is that I don’t eat cake and doughnuts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner like I used to. For the most part, I eat healthy. I also exercise.

I found a job that I love. I work as a covid swabber on a cruise ship. I did love being a nurse, the pandemic burned me out.

Next week, I’m going to the United Kingdom and sailing to Norway, France, and Spain. That means that I will be spending my fortieth birthday internationally!!

This new company that I found lets us work on international ships.

I’ve learned and done so much in my forty years on this Earth.

I’m so glad that I decided to confront my issues and deal with them. If I had not of done that, then I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

Living a life that I love.

Mac Anderson said that “you’re always one choice away from changing your life.”

I have certainly proven that quote right.

What choice have you made in your life that completely changed your life?

I Don’t Agree

I was recently turned down from a job that I really wanted.

They sent an email saying that I didn’t have the skills or experience needed for the position.

I disagreed with that email because my last job was the same position. I have been a covid swabber on a cruise ship and I was applying to be a covid swabber on a cruise ship with a new company. I was confused as to why they would say that I didn’t have the skills or experience needed.

I talked to my friends and told them what the email said. I had given them the companies information and two of them got hired. While I was happy for them, I was confused as to why I didn’t get the position.

I emailed the recruiter and then I called her.

We talked and it ended up being a simple misunderstanding and she set me up for an interview the very next day.

I did the interview and ended up getting hired. They said I had the experience and skills that they needed. I was glad to hear that.

If I had not of called the recruiter, I wouldn’t have this job.

Some of my friends said it was because they liked me.

I think it’s because I didn’t accept what was said in the email and I took action. If I hadn’t of called the recruiter and talked to her about the email, then I wouldn’t have gotten the interview set up and been hired.

I could have just accepted the email and then moved on. There is another company that is hiring for covid swabbers.

I really wanted to work for this company because they have a lot of ships, and I can work international with this company.

With my last company, I was told that it was frowned upon to request a ship or request where you wanted to go. The company would decide where you were needed.

It wasn’t in the contract that I couldn’t ask, so I asked. I wanted to stay on a certain ship, and I asked, and I got to stay. I wanted to go to Alaska and asked. I got to go to Alaska.

I don’t know if the manager liked it, but she gave me what I asked for. She never told me to stop asking or that she couldn’t do it.

If you don’t ask the answer will always be no. The worst that the manager could have said is no. But she never did. I got what I asked for.

I remember my life coach saying, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. That means that if you don’t ask for something then you won’t get what you need or want.

When I’m afraid to ask for something, I think of that saying and then I ask.

Have you ever asked for something and gotten it or been told, no?

I’m not saying that you will get everything that you ask for but if you are told no, at least you asked. I’ve been told no before. I’m still proud of myself for asking.

I was nervous when I was calling the recruiter about the rejection email. She could have said that she agreed with the hiring managers and told me sorry. Thankfully she didn’t agree with the email and talked to the hiring manager for me.

For Old People?

I recently had someone tell me that whale watching is for old people.

I was telling this person that I was going to go whale watching before I got on my new ship. My plan was to fly to Newport Beach and then Seattle to whale watch.

I wasn’t expecting this person to say that whale watching is for older people. Whale watching doesn’t have an age limit.

I had a love for whales since I was little. I wanted to be an oceanographer, but I gave up on that idea because I couldn’t swim.

When I went whale watching yesterday, the captain said that I should be a naturalist because he could hear and see the passion that I had for whales. He said that he learned a lot from me about whales. I could talk about whales all day and not get bored, especially killer whales.

Two of my favorite movies are about killer whales, The Whale that Ate Jaws and The Killers in Eden. I could watch those movies all day long. I’ll post the links to them.

I’m going to watch these movies after I finish this post.

I thought about what that person said, and I decided that it didn’t matter. I know that whale watching isn’t just for old people. Whale watching is relaxing to me. I love to see the whales and dolphins. I try to go whale watching every chance that I get.

I can’t base my life on what other people think and say. I’m not hurting anyone going whale watching and I’m going to continue.

I’ve done so many things that other people told me not to do. If I had of listened to them, then I wouldn’t be living the life that I love right now. I wouldn’t have done sky diving, paragliding, travel nursing, or working on a cruise ship.

At one point in my life, someone told me not to do any of those things. I did them anyway and had a great time.

There is a time and place to listen to some people’s advice but at the end of the day, you have to do what you feel is best for your life.

I did take into account all of the advice that I had received but I wanted to live a life that I loved.

I found a job on Facebook that sounded too good to be true, but it was the best decision that I could have made. I’ll be working in Alaska over the summer and go whale watching too.

Your life is for you to live.

Have you ever made a decision that other people said you shouldn’t have made but it turned out to be a great decision for you?

For example, when I wanted to be a travel nurse, so many people said that it wasn’t a good decision. It turned out to be a great decision for me and it led me to the life that I’m living right now.

I’ll continue to go whale watching whether people think that it’s for older people. There is no age limit on living your dreams or doing a hobby that you love.

What Are You Known For?

I recently saw this post in a Facebook group that made me think.

This woman didn’t like the fact that she was known for her hair. She wore a wig and got complimented on it almost every day. She said she didn’t like it because it wasn’t her hair.

That got me thinking because on the cruise ship that I’m on, I’m known for my hair. When people describe me, they say the girl with the big curly hair. There is only one other woman on the ship that wears her hair like me. Every time we see each other, we compliment each other on our hair because our hair looks similar.

I usually wear my hair straight but I don’t have the time or my straight hair products to do that.

In the beginning, that did irritate me that people would compliment my hair first. I think I have a beautiful smile.

I realize now, that my hair is more noticeable when I wear it naturally curly. It stands out more than my smile.

I also realize that I was letting my alopecia get in the way. I don’t know if I’m going to get another bald spot or not. I don’t know if my hair will thin. I would rather have people notice my smile just in case my hair won’t be this beautiful again. Right now my hair is doing good! No bald spots, thinning, or excessive shedding. I’m going to enjoy that while it lasts. I hope it lasts!

I also realize that I can’t control what people know me for. Some people know me for my big smile. Some people know me for my hair. Some people know me as the girl who loves to take pictures of rainbows.

I can’t control what people know me for any more than I can control the rainbow when I’m trying to take a picture of them. Sometimes they go away before I can take a picture. Sometimes they transform before my eyes into something even more incredible. This next picture, I was trying to take a picture of a rainbow in a cloud and then the moon appeared!

This rainbow was right outside my balcony!

So while I do understand this womans frustration over what people compliment her on, I also understand that I can’t control what people say or what they notice about me.

Think about what you are known for. What compliment do people give you? Do you agree with them or do you not?

This is my curly hair, my smile, and Bonnie the sea lion!

It’s ok to take the compliments. You don’t have to agree with them but you also can’t control what people notice about you.