Off the coast at San Clemente, California


Another bottlenose dolphin


My last post but one puts me in mind of a slightly relevant personal story:


I’m essentially an aquatic animal.  From about age five, I had a swimming pool in the back yard of my San Gabriel, California, home, and I spent much of most childhood summer vacation days in that pool (when I wasn’t on a bicycle somewhere, and before my father put me to work during my summers at the family construction business).  I swam competitively for my high school, and so forth.


One day, late in my high school days, I was with friends down at San Clemente State Beach.  I was an avid body surfer, and, on this particular day, I was quite far out and some distance from anybody else.  (Unwise, perhaps.  But I was about sixteen, and, of course, immortal.)


Suddenly, I saw a large gray fin about twenty feet away.


For those of you who may not have had such an experience, I can promise you that your heart stops.


I was, as I say, pretty much alone and quite a long way from the shore.  There wasn’t the slightest chance that I could outswim any large, gray, finned ocean creature toward the beach.


Within seconds, though, I saw five or six other gray fins, and I realized — to my enormous relief — that I had seen a dolphin, not a shark.


The pod of dolphins arched gracefully past me, coming within about three feet and seeming to pay me no attention whatever.


It was a memorable encounter.  It’s still very clear in my mind.



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