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Meet the team at Captain Dave’s

Everyone on the Dolphin Safari team is very special to us and each person contributes to the sense of family we have and friendliness we love to share.

Boat Captains and Crew

Captain Chuck

Chuck
Captain

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

Grandfather is John V. Atanasoff, the father of the computer. He invented the first electronic digital computer in the 1930’s.

What do you love most about your job?

I love being out on the water with the animals.

Where are you from originally?

Boulder, Colorado

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

Spotted Dolphin

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

When we had the two gray whales come right up and they would blow about 30-40 times right next to the boat.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Gary

Gary
Captain

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

I was a drummer in a Las Vegas U2 tribute band.

What do you love most about your job?

I’ve been hooked on whales my entire life. It’s the main reason I became a boat captain. I love sharing that passion with my passengers.

Where are you from originally?

Pasadena

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

A common dolphin. Always surrounded by hundreds of friends and family.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

When a minke whale mugged our boat for 45 minutes. When it was time for us to head back to port, she actually followed us for a few minutes and didn’t want us to leave.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Jim

Jim
Captain

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

I’m a farmer when not on the water (organic avocados, macadamia nuts and persimmons).

What do you love most about your job?

Experiencing the beauty and awesomeness of the ocean environment.

Where are you from originally?

Raised and lived in Southern California all my life with a few short periods of out of state living, but haven’t seen any place I’ve liked as well.

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

Bottlenose dolphin, because they are really smart, curious and sociable.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

A really close up view of a blue whale fluking with all the passengers standing on the bow of DolphinSafari. We were right behind him, almost close enough to get splashed!

Captain Marie

Marie
Captain

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

I was a professional lady angler in Florida for two years in the 1980’s. I used to get severely seasick every weekend, and swore I would never go out another weekend on a boat, but I kept doing it and I outgrew it after two long years. I held I.G.F.A. (International Game Fish Association) record for a 75 lb Atlantic sailfish 8′ 3″. I never looked up to see if somebody broke my record. I also marinated and smoke the fish; was a bit gamy but it did not go to waste. From then on it was tag and release. I got and I.G.F.A. tag and release award for efforts of keeping the sailfish population and studying their migratory patterns. One of the sailfish I tagged in Fort Lauderdale was re-caught off the coast of Maine.

What do you love most about your job?

I love getting out on the ocean , I love working with all the great people that work at Capt. Dave’s and I love watching new people experiencing the wildlife.

Where are you from originally?

I am from Guilford, Connecticut.

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

I would be a bottlenose dolphin.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

I was training on Dolphin Safari one day and first and only time I was on that boat up on the bridge with Chuck and Dale and we had a blue whale right next to the bow. It was just under the water, turquoise blue, he was just massive and beautiful.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Neal

Neal
Captain/Vessel Manager

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

I was one of the pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean.

What do you love most about your job?

Being able to see such amazing marine life in their natural habitat.

Where are you from originally?

Glendora, CA

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

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

Watching a humpback whale breach over and over again for 45 minutes straight. A few times as close as 50 feet away.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Buck

Buck
First Mate

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

I do crossword and jigsaw puzzles. My wife got me in to them.

What do you love most about your job?

Getting out on the beautiful Pacific Ocean and being so close to all these amazing animals every day.

Where are you from originally?

Northern California, close to Lake Tahoe.

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

Bottlenose Dolphin. Fun and powerful plus they always have a smile on their face.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

This is tough because there are a lot of great moments, but I’d have to say the first time I saw a blue whale. The sheer size of it was just incredible.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Caitlyn

Caitlyn
First Mate

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

I volunteer at a marine mammal rescue center where I get to help rescue, rehabilitate, and release sick and injured seals and sea lions!

What do you love most about your job?

I love everything about my job! I especially love watching how excited our passengers get when they see the animals!

Where are you from originally?

Orange County, California. I grew up whale watching in Dana Point with my family.

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

I would be a false killer whale because they are my favorite cetacean! They have amazing personalities and always seem like they are having fun.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

It’s hard to pick just one experience because every trip is unique in its own way! However, one that really stands out to me was a trip where we had two curious humpback whales come over to check us out. They kept swimming under the boat and one of them spy-hopped directly in front of the boat as if it was saying hello to our passengers! It was such a special encounter.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Hannah

Hannah
First Mate

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

I love vintage fashion! For a period of time, I even worked as a fashion stylist! When I’m not in my Dolphin Safari work attire, I like to sport some snazzy threads. The 60s and 70s are my favorite era for fashion, and it’s not unusual for me to rock a pair of bell bottoms or psychedelic prints. Plus, wearing vintage is eco-friendly!

What do you love most about your job?

Seeing people fall in love with the sea and all the beauty within it! If you can help folks fall in love with the ocean and its inhabitants, they will be more inclined to protect it. I believe our most important duty in this field is to educate, empower, and equip folks to make a difference.

Where are you from originally?

Born and raised in Orange County baby!

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

A killer whale because they’re so incredibly intelligent and fast! But honestly, I want to be a Mola Mola – I’m lazy, and slowly cruising and eating all day would be the best.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

I love hearing the excitement from passengers seeing a whale or dolphin for the first time – such joy, it never gets old!

Capt. Dave's Team Member Matt

Matt
First Mate/Drone Pilot

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

I use my voice… a lot! Between being a classically trained singer, an airshow announcer, and university news anchor/voiceover artist, my voice sure gets a work out!

What do you love most about your job?

I love being on the water with the Dolphin Safari family and showing people the incredible beauty of what is out here! I started coming out as a passenger when I was five years old! It’s a dream come true that those heroes that I looked up to are now my adopted family and that I get to help inspire someone else the way they inspired me!

Where are you from originally?

Riverside, CA.

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

Humpback whale, because we are effectively the same thing… constantly using our singing voice with disproportionately large forelimbs.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

Back in 2011, when I was 11, I went on a trip and I kid you not there were over 60 blue whales all in one area! Everyone was absolutely speechless about what was happening. It was probably one of the most incredible moments of my life, and I will hold it with me forever!

Capt. Dave's Team Member Stacie

Stacie
First Mate

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

I have a Master’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in teaching and conservation.

What do you love most about your job?

I love getting to see amazing whales and dolphins out in their natural habitat every day, and being able to share my knowledge and passion with our passengers.

Where are you from originally?

Born and raised here in Orange County.

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

I would be a Risso’s dolphin because they always seem to be swimming so slow and chill, and their coloration with all their scars makes them so unique. Plus I love baby dolphins and they have the cutest babies!

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

It is so hard to pick just one! I think one of the best would be a minke whale “mugging” on Manute’a. Minke whales can be so shy normally, but this one swam right over and just started circling within a couple feet of the boat. We just sat there in neutral with this whale swimming circles around and under us for almost 30 minutes.

Office Team

Capt. Dave's Team Member Shannon

Shannon
General Manager

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

I was a manicurist for 13 years.

What do you love most about your job?

I moved to Orange County 18 years ago and have been working for Capt. Dave’s for almost 9 years, after applying to an ad in the Pennysaver. I feel blessed to work for an amazing company whose passion is to help these wonderful creatures and share them with the world in their natural habitat. I love to hear from our passengers on how we have helped them have the most amazing experience of their life and  to be a part of their joy brings a smile to my face every day.

Where are you from originally?

Born in California, raised in the San Fernando Valley and was a complete “Valley Girl”, like totally.

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

If I could be any cetacean of my choice, that’s what I would be… a dolphin!

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

My best Dolphin Experience was when I was in the POD on Manute’a for the first time with my two girls, we were completely surrounded by Bottlenose Dolphins and could look them in the eyes. It absolutely brought tears to my eyes I was so excited and amazed and it is an experience I will never forget!

Dolphin Safari Mascot Annabelle

Denielle & Annabelle
Media Manager | Dolphin Safari Mascot

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

D: I ran the charter department for a yacht brokerage and charter company in the harbor for 11 years.  Never had any clue we had so many blue whales off Dana Point until I started working here!
A: During the day I am a ferocious guard dog, notifying my human of any one outside the door. At night I curl up with my pink squeaky toy, like it’s my teddy bear.

What do you love most about your job?

D: Meeting passengers on the boat, some of whom have become good friends of mine, and photographing the amazing wildlife.
A: I love going on the boat and saying hello to everyone. They give me treats and belly rubs and it’s so much fun!

Where are you from originally?

D: Connecticut
A: It’s a mystery. I’m a rescue dog!

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

D: Humpback whale
A: What’s a cetacean? Are they like bunnies? Because I LOVE me some bunnies.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

D: Being “eye to eye” with Farley the fin whale in the Underwater Pod. Getting mugged by Buddy the blue whale was awesome too.
A: It’s a tie between the day Mrs. Capt. Dave found me on the side of the road, and the day she brought me to the Dolphin Deck, where I met the person who would give me a fur-ever home.

Dolphin Deck Team

Capt. Dave's Team Member Janel

Janel
Dolphin Deck

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

I have a streak of white-blonde hair above my left ear that’s a birthmark- people ask if I dye it that way, but it’s completely natural.

What do you love most about your job?

I love seeing how excited people are to learn about the ocean and its wildlife, and I love answering questions our passengers have about wildlife.

Where are you from originally?

I’m from San Clemente, so I grew up around Dana Point Harbor.

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

I’d be a killer whale. They’re highly social, incredibly intelligent, and they know how to work together. They’re very adaptable and they thrive wherever they live, and they have beautiful markings.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

Leaning over the bow of Fast Cat and looking down at common dolphins swimming just arm’s length away from me was an amazing experience

Capt. Dave's Team Member Kim

Kim
Dolphin Deck Manager

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

I helped start & build my brother’s family roofing business. I worked there for 20 years. My mom & I actually roofed a house together. The company is still going strong.

What do you love most about your job?

Besides the awesome people I work with, I love all the different people I get to meet every day & see the smiles on their faces, especially when they come back and say what an amazing experience they had.

Where are you from originally?

Born in Orlando, FL., but raised in Westminster, CA.

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

I would be a dolphin, they are so smart & always seen like they are having fun.

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

Getting to bring my son on a trip to show him what an amazing company I’m a part of.

Reservations Team

Gold Glitter Dolphin

Jill
Reservations

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

I was a translator in the Navy for 6 years.

What do you love most about your job?

I love hearing how excited people get when they book trips with us.

Where are you from originally?

Southern California

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

A dolphin – they always seem so carefree!

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

Taking my kids out on Manute’a, and seeing how delighted and excited they were to watch all the dolphins swimming right next to the bow.

Capt. Dave's Team Member Rebekah

Rebekah
Reservations

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

I don’t eat anything that once had eyeballs.

What do you love most about your job?

I love talking with people about something that will bring them so much joy and happiness!

Where are you from originally?

Washington State

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

A dolphin or a humpback whale. I love how energetic, fun, and friendly they are!

What is your best Dolphin Safari experience of all time?

I was aboard a Dolphin Safari one summer during blue whale season. One blue came right in front of the vessel, head on, tipped its chin up right before diving down underneath the bow of the boat. I thought we were going to be made into an afternoon snack, which would have been incredible! I think I caught a glimpse of what Jonah in the bible felt like. It was unforgettable, and so SO cool! (P.S. Don’t worry, blue whales eat itty-bitty krill, not people!).