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Meet Captain Dave

Captain Dave and Mrs. Captain Dave

Your Guide and Captain, Dave Anderson

Your guide, Coast Guard licensed Captain Dave Anderson, is an experienced marine naturalist, award-winning filmmaker and author, photographer, speaker, and conservationist.

He teaches you about Dana Point, the majestic whales who visit and the many wild dolphins who live here, as well as introduces you to a few of our other local marine friends like our California sea lions and brown pelicans.

Read Capt. Dave’s poem about dolphins.

In 1995 Capt. Dave Anderson was living aboard his sailboat in Dana Point, California and bringing people out to see whales and dolphins for his business, ‘Capt. Dave’s Dolphin Safari’. When he told the other boaters what he saw out there, they were amazed. “That’s when it hit me,” said Capt. Dave, “If they don’t know what is out there, then who does?”

Captain Dave mounted an underwater camera and hydrophone on the bow of his boat and began taking his cameras on every trip to record what his passengers experienced first-hand. It took him five years to create the documentary “Wild Dolphins & Whales of Southern California”, learning how to film, edit and narrate as he went along, an experience that has forever changed his life.

Captain Dave

“The Southern California coast is alive” – Capt. Dave

Most of Capt. Dave’s documentary was filmed on consumer digital video recorders (all he could afford at the time) and the first camera he used was actually a hand-me-down VHS-C from his wife’s parents. Much of his footage is breathtakingly beautiful, a tour-de-force in garage filmmaking. It’s amazing what a few cameras, one home computer upgraded umpteen times and thousands of hours from one man’s life can accomplish.

While Captain Dave’s primary responsibility was to his passengers and his business, his passion to film these animals carried over into his off hours, with many nights spent working into the wee hours editing. “The average Joe can be a filmmaker,” said Capt. Dave. “Nowadays, it doesn’t take money, as much as it takes desire and time… lots of time.”

The film won eight awards at two of the world’s biggest wildlife film festivals: the International Wildlife Film Festival and Wildscreen in England, the ‘Academy Awards’ of Wildlife films. Following the success of his documentary, Captain Dave has received the attention and support of several wildlife film producers and has written a script for a dramatic feature film, “Blue.”

DVD Cover for Documentary of Whale Watching
Capt Dave filming some dolphins

Capt. Dave has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, as well as local network affiliates and the Travel Channel. His photographs have appeared on the cover of newspapers and magazines and have appeared on special exhibit at various locales. He also worked with filmmaker Greg McGillivray for the IMAX film Dolphins, helping to locate large herds of dolphins.

Capt. Dave has traveled throughout California talking to other skippers and whale researchers to gain additional footage, as well as to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, the South Pacific and French Polynesia to learn more about the animals he encounters from those who study them.

Committed to promoting awareness of Southern California’s ocean, Capt. Dave introduced and organized the first Ocean Awareness Day, now an annual event during the Dana Point Festival of Whales.

Captain Dave organized Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and was hands-on with Lily the gray whale’s disentanglement in 2010 that made national headlines. To raise awareness Capt. Dave authored the award winning book, “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey”, a captivating and scientifically accurate tale of a gray whale’s migration with breathtaking photographs and foreword by Jean-Michel Cousteau. His book won eight awards in 2013 including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice from the Independent Book Publishers Association.

He has been featured on the Ellen Show and on CBS Morning News for his conservation efforts and his success in disentangling whales.

Meet Gisele (Mrs. Capt. Dave)

Tell us something funny or interesting about yourself that no one would guess?

I’m a big animal lover! We have goats, chickens, fish, turtles, frogs, honey bees, three dogs, and one amazing rooster!

What do you love most about your job?

I love hearing the stories from people who tell me that their trip was life-changing. I love the people I get to work with and most of all I love that we have the privilege of bringing people out to see God’s AMAZING Creation.

Where are you from originally?

Rhode Island

If you could be a cetacean, which animal would you be?

A humpback whale mom. I just love the way they are with their calves.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

VERY TOUGH to answer this one. I would have to say the very first time I was with a megapod of dolphins. I didn’t stop smiling for hours!!!