Sometimes you are just lucky. In Laguna Beach, those times seem to come more frequently than other places in the world. I see a small pod of dolphins almost every morning between the hours of 6:00 and 7:00. On Labor Day weekend, I was on a small boat about 1/2 mile offshore when a pod of 50 or 60 dolphins sprinted toward us. My fun-loving captain engaged my sense of adventure by following the dolphins south along the coastline, “I’ll spend fuel on this,” he said.
Eager to play in the water with the dolphins, I quickly changed into nothing as we sped ahead of the pod. I plunged into the water trusting the captain would circle back for a distressed damsel. The water was clear enough to see scars on the backs of the 6 to 8 foot long dolphins. I wonder what those scars are from — hopefully a richly lived life.
The largest pod of dolphins I spotted in Laguna Beach was about 1/2 mile west off the Crescent Bay Point during an August sunset. Hundreds of dolphins formed a long trail as they traveled south in a feeding frenzy that summoned thousands of birds to the water’s surface. According to Dave Anderson, an authority on wild dolphins in Dana Point, “It’s common to find pods of 1,000 to 2,000.” Laguna Beach has pods of dolphins up to 10,000, but those are rare.
Common Dolphins in Laguna Beach
Technically all dolphins are whales, and whales in the delphinidae family are dolphins. The most common Laguna Beach dolphins are the Short-beaked common dolphin and Long-beaked common dolphin. Other dolphins you might find in Laguna Beach: Rough-toothed dolphin, Common bottlenose dolphin, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Pantropical spotted dolphin, Spinner dolphin, Striped dolphin, Pacific white-sided dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, False killer whale, Killer whale, and Short-finned pilot whale.
To say dolphins are intelligent is an understatement. My son and I were friendly with three dolphins in Indonesia. Every time we encountered them, they greeted us as remembered friends. Perhaps that part is my hopeful imagination, but the difference in the way they played with my 3-year old son and the way they played with me could not be ignored. The dolphins were gentle with my son, nudging his ribs as if to tickle him, while the amorous males were particularly rough with me and even caused me alarm for my safety at times. Not wanting to chase the dolphins away, I once floated on my back in the water allowing them to come to me. A female positioned herself next to me, rolled over, and floated on her back mimicking my posture. Like a child learning to speak, she was always good for a laugh.
One full moon night, I went for a naked swim in the Indian Ocean. Two dolphins not only allowed me to caress them, they allowed me to hold them in my arms. For what seemed like hours, my arms were wrapped around their torsos and we floated in the water together. Money comes and goes, but experiences are forever.
If you have an experience with dolphins you are willing to share, I’d love to hear about it.