Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Dolphins at our doorstep
|A trio of
playful dolphins jump in front of Capt. Dave
Anderson's catamaran on a recent dolphin safari
near Dana Point. 'We have a living, breathing,
moving Yosemite off our coast, and people that
live here are unaware of it,' Anderson
TEMPLETON, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY
Capt. Dave's Dolphin Safari offers daily
trips to see dolphins not far off Dana Point. Unlike whales,
you can watch and interact with the frolicking dolphins
The Orange County Register
DANA POINT – Dolphins jumping out of the water. Dolphins
surfing the wake. Dolphins feeding. Dolphins mating. Dolphins
swimming with the catamaran.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dolphins. Everywhere!
If you're thinking Hawaii or Florida, where most folks
believe the highest concentrations of dolphins are found, you
No, this Discovery Channel-like episode occurs daily off
our coast - live, up-close and personal.
"Isn't this amazing?" passenger Paul Kim of Laurel, Md.,
said Wednesday as dolphins frolicked all around the boat. "Why
don't people come out and do more of this? I can't believe
Capt. Dave's Dolphin Safari in Dana Point, featuring a
catamaran sailboat, is the only known charter business
designed to take people out to see the dolphins at Orange
Once the whale-watching season ends, the sportfishing
landings send their boats out fishing. The whales might be
gone, but the dolphins remain year-round, and Dave Anderson
takes advantage with daily trips just a few miles off Dana
Few people know that California has about 400,000 dolphins
– more than Florida, Alaska and Hawaii combined, Anderson
said. Or few people care.
"Dolphins are like the booby prize if they don't see a
whale," Anderson told a group of six passengers as the 35-foot
catamaran motored out to sea. "When I take people out to show
them whales and dolphins, I ask them afterward what they liked
most and they almost always say, 99.9 percent of the time,
they like the dolphins best.
"We have a living, breathing, moving Yosemite off our
coast, and people that live here are unaware of it."
The seas were calm and the skies overcast as Anderson
scouted the horizon for signs of life. He said they saw a nice
pod of 1,000 dolphins the day before. "Hopefully, we'll be
able to relocate them," he said.
It didn't take long. Minutes later, Anderson spotted some
jumping in the distance. The show would soon begin.
"They're the only animal in the world that'll come over to
you to play," Anderson said. "Not to find food, but to
interact with another species."
As if on cue, the dolphins started racing alongside and
zigzagging in front of the boat, putting on a spectacular
"Wow," said Tiffany Larson of Bend, Ore. "They're
Passengers stand on the hull and get so close to the
dolphins they can almost reach out and touch them. You can
even hear their voices - a high-pitched squeaking.
Inside the cockpit, a screen shows dolphins swimming in and
out of view.
What's different about viewing dolphins from the catamaran
compared to the sportboats used for whale watching is the
"That's what the boat is all about," Anderson said, adding
that it's like getting down on the floor to be at eye level
with a child.
The smaller boat is not intimidating and doesn't disturb
the dolphins, who are quickly drawn to it. You'd think these
animals were paid performers.
They rarely miss a performance. The odds of seeing dolphins
on a given day are pretty good – an 85 percent success rate
for the 2-1/2-hour trips. The show Wednesday was a hit.
As were the others, Larson was impressed. She had seen
dolphins in the wild before when living in Hawaii.
"But never this many. They're just everywhere," she said.
"And never this close before. The last time I saw a dolphin
this close was at Sea World."
Like Sea World, Orange County's dolphin playground is open
daily, and worth checking
Back to Dolphin Safari.com