Do you remember that really cheesy, sappy TV show, “Flipper” with the even cheesier theme song? When I was a little kid, Flipper was my favorite show; must-see TV for me. I was so envious of Sandy; I wanted my very own pet dolphin, too! I was so crazy about dolphins, my dream was to grow up and become a dolphin trainer at Marineland (no longer in existence) or Sea World.
Well, fast forward to 2012 and now I am a baby geezer, remembering that childhood dream. Flipper was from Florida and now I was on a mission to see his distant cousins here, too. Sure, I have seen plenty of dolphins in my 50 years, but “plenty” is never enough, when it comes to seeing your very favorite of anything.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself, as far as yesterday’s adventures go. The day started out back at J.N. Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge; this time with our kayaks, rather than a tram tour. There are two places to launch within the reserve and we opted for the second, after passing the white pelicans.
Bruce brought his fishing gear, intending to catch this time, rather than just fish. But, it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s not that he’s a bad fisherman; I used to watch him catch 6-10 bass in one hour off Coronado Bay, from his kayak. And, that’s no fish story; it was a regular thing! But, here, the fish just aren’t going to bite at much of anything when they are suffering from a sudden 10 degree temperature drop.
So, while Bruce fished, I chased around a blue heron and watched the egrets on the shoreline. It was a gorgeous day and so quiet and tranquil.
After fishing, a swim workout, and a deli sandwich from Jerry’s, we headed for the Lighthouse in our kayaks in search of dolphins. They were there the other day, so we figured our luck would be with us again. Sure enough, before we even launched our kayaks, we spotted them, just 50 yards out. FLIPPER!
The gulf was completely flat and winds were only 4mph; perfect for ‘yaking. We paddled towards the pier and spent the remainder of the late afternoon paddling around a couple of pods of dolphins out for their evening meal. A mother and baby, close by her side, didn’t seem to mind us at all; a surprise, since mothers are always so protective of their young. At one point, Mom poked her head up by Bruce’s kayak to have a look, before swimming right under his boat. He must have met her approval (how could she not???), because they continued to hang around the area.
A few times, the dolphins surfaced right by my boat, as well, before taking a dive right under me. (Of course, every time, I was too slow at the trigger and ended up with plenty of photos of just a fin sticking out of the water…) It was such a thrill, reminding me of the times I had paddled with the dolphins before; once in Long Beach and the other in Aransas Pass, Texas.
The main thing was that it was such a blast to be out there with the dolphins, so close to the shore, watching them feed. At times, they would dart towards the shore chasing down their dinner; their speed and agility amazing to see. We were having so much fun; we didn’t want to turn back when the sun was almost set. For that hour or two, I was living that childhood dream. “They called him Flipper, Flipper, Flipper, …”