Monday, July 23 , 2018, 3:53 am | Fair 68º


Captain’s Log: Dolphins Along Our Coast a Blessing

We are blessed with dolphins, and I believe we are blessed by dolphins.

Going to sea to hang out with them is so much fun that my cheeks get sore from grinning so much. Being near them is big medicine and feels good for the soul.

The critters we see patrolling along the coast, looking very much like Flipper, are porpoise. It is peaceful and heartwarming to watch them cruise along slowly and then organize for a feeding opportunity when they encounter their favorite feed, such as small finfish.

The white and gray/black critters farther offshore, which we joyfully encounter in our boats, are common dolphins. Those are the friendly and fun ones we go visit.

These dolphins are chock full of curiosity, and it seems like they would rather play than do anything. They cruise the SoCal Bight, and we are blessed to have a big robust population here in the Santa Barbara Channel.

While out there on my charter boat, WaveWalker, we see lots of dolphins — hundreds and sometimes even thousands. I have to cheer wildly when I scan the surface of the sea and watch a half-mile of water erupting in jumping dolphin. For every one dolphin above water, there are about 10 more under the surface. Dolphin are my personal favorite critters, and I think they know it, considering the way they rush to the boat and play on the bow waves and stern wakes.

On the WaveWalker, my passengers thoroughly enjoy sitting on the bow cushion while we are among the dolphins because they are only a few feet away from the critters and a very emotionally powerful moment develops. Dolphins cruise right alongside the bow and turn partway on their sides so that they can look up at the people, who of course are looking back.

You have to spend long moments looking deep into the eyes of an intelligent wild animal in order to understand how powerful this can be. I know a woman who was in a small boat some years back when a humpback whale poked its head out of the water right next to her and she stared deeply into the whale’s eye, just 3 feet away. It changed her life and her perspective on life.

Our common dolphins have that same mystical power. It must be experienced to be understood, and I can’t think of anything I more highly recommend doing.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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