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By: SeaWorld San Diego

Imagine a harsh land where animals can survive in temperatures that fall to 70 degrees below zero. Now imagine coming safely within feet of one of that region's fiercest land predators before ending up in shallow water with one of the Arctic's gentlest sea creatures.

Dreaming? No. Welcome to SeaWorld® San Diego's Beluga Interaction Program, a behind-the-scenes experience beyond imagination.

SeaWorld's Beluga Interaction Program begins as guests check in for a chilling adventure that culminates with a once-in-a-lifetime in-water experience with beluga whales.

The Beluga Interaction Program is a distinctive adventure bound to inspire an incredible connection with arctic animals. 

Before stepping into 55-degree water, adventurers meet some amazing arctic species. The behind-the-scenes tour at the park's Wild Arctic®  attraction allows up to eight participants to visit SeaWorld's enormous Pacific walruses and gigantic polar bears. While on this exclusive tour, animal caretakers share fascinating facts about the animals' natural history, diets, anatomy, behavior and more.

Next, guests slip into thick SeaWorld wet suits to prepare to meet the huge beluga whales, which can tip the scale at 2,500 pounds and measure 14 feet long. Up to four guests at a time venture out into the pool on a spacious ledge to meet the beluga whales. The ledge, sitting in 3 to 4 feet below the water's surface in the expansive 650,000-gallon beluga whale public viewing habitat, offers a safe environment for guests to experience a personal encounter with these magnificent animals.

Among the habitat's faux ice floes and rocky glaciers, participants can touch the whale's soft, melon-like head and feel the graceful animal's dorsal ridge, which helps the marine mammal breakup ice in the wild. Before the Beluga Interaction Program is over, guests give the whale training hand signals that cue behaviors such as birdlike vocalizations - which have earned the species the nickname "sea canary" - among other trained behaviors, as well as help feed the beluga whale.

Participants must be at least 10 years old and 48 inches tall to enter the water with beluga whales. Swimming skills are not required. The entire program lasts approximately 70 minutes with an estimated 20-minute in-water experience.

Program fee: $215 (plus park admission; includes lockers, changing facilities and showers). Advance registration recommended.

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