Sometimes, a Whale Dies
Jonathan Foley

I had the opportunity to swim with a pod of dolphins just beyond the surf line in front of the Laguna Beach Hotel one overcast morning. We’d been there 3 days including the 4th of July. We decided to check out, put our bags in the car and go get chairs on the private beach in front of the hotel to spend the last day. We went down to stake out our claim early. The first thing we saw was fins, close to shore. Once we’d identified them as dolphins, I ran back up to the room to grab my mask and fins. The bottom is sand on that part of the shore so the underwater visibility isn’t as good as near the bluffs where the veins of rock divide the sand and the water’s the clearest on the mainland. The surf was rough, high shore break, it was funny to come up out of a wave and see these gray smiling faces turning from side to side as they watched me. There were about 18 of them. It took 6 trouncing waves to get out to them and when I did, they all swam away. “Ah well, what did you expect” I asked myself. The surf had roiled the sand into the water and so there was virtually no visibility underwater. I watched them swim away, breaching occasionally. Then, they turned around! They started swimming towards me.There was an overwhelming sense of peace and intelligence in the water that day as they breached next to me and I could hear them pinging me underwater. One came up under me and lightly brushed my thigh with his/her warm fur. I was frightened and thought, I’m playing with 2 hundred pound wild animals here. The same dolphin rose in the water in front of me and shook its head from side to side. It seemed to say, “no worries, we won’t hurt you.”

If you ever see dolphins in the water close to shore, swim out and make some friends..

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