If you heard my Fin Whale story in Episode 28, you’ll know that I grew up watching off of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and in the time that I lived there and was whale watching. I never saw a wild dolphin which was always a little disappointing to me because dolphins are awesome, right?
So much to my surprise when I moved here to San Diego just about six years ago now, you could see wild dolphins from the beach. We have a local pod of coastal bottlenose, and how amazing was it to watch them surf. So I knew that I had to get out there.
Now it is the middle of COVID It’s the day after Independence Day, my roommate and I head out on a private charter. They’ve just opened up outdoor activities again, masked obviously, and we wanted to see something! It was starting into Blue Whale season, coastal humpbacks were around like what were we going to see? And we had no idea that we might get skunked by the whales, but not the dolphins.
Very shortly after pulling out of very choppy Mission Bay Channel, we see some churn on the horizon that isn’t normal swell, and within 10 minutes, we are suddenly surrounded by a super mega pod of Long Beaked Common Dolphins.
There were babies, they were riding the bow, some of them were even vocalizing as they jumped out of the water. I was in utter glory, I had never experienced this and on the entire two and a half, two and a half hour encounter.
We must have seen every common dolphin in Southern California waters, not just the long beaks, but also short beaks who I’d also again never seen and never knew that they were so acrobatic and silly and crazy. And just constantly leaping out of the water. I honestly don’t think they know how to swim regularly, because they are just entirely launching themselves out. It’s wild.
The best thing though, was seeing the babies oh, these adorable little footballs I could not even bear the giddiness of seeing these tiny little things, most of them still with fetal folds, and the joy that it brought me to see them so close.
We had dolphins jumping so close to the boat that if I was a jerk, I could have reached my hand out and touched them. And I will never forget those moments of them just surrounding us. All of a sudden disappearing. Feeding. There was a huge bait ball we saw on the fish finder on the boat and then *Vooom* everyone was up at the surface again. And that happened constantly. And I was just enamored.
I’ve always loved dolphins, I’d only ever really seen them in captivity. But their playfulness, their intuitiveness to not get hit by the boat. Everything about them was just incredible. Especially when I leaned over the bow and made eye contact. I swear my life changed in that moment. And every time I’ve gone out since then and have been able to see dolphins in the wild on a whale watch here I look for that connection with them. It is life changing.
As I said, it really feels like you are connecting with the animal that they see you and I get choked up every time it happens because it is a very emotional experience for me. I am just so in love with these creatures and it is so amazing. To be able to get to spend time with them on the water and watch them naturally. I just you know we love them. We love them all.
This post was adapted from a voice recording in the thirty fourth episode of the Whale Tales Podcast, listen here