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A Day in the Life of... Captain Dave Anderson

We spend a morning at sea with this knowledgeable captain.

Ed Olen

Join the Safari  
Capt. Dave’s whale and dolphin trips run
daily at various times. Excursions usually
last 2.5 to 3 hours. There is also the
option of booking a private charter at a
time of your choice. Call to book.
949.488.2828 :: dolphinsafari.com

Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey is now
available online for $45.
:: talesfromthepod.com

A peaceful confidence overtakes Captain Dave Anderson (aka Capt. Dave) as he mans his vessel out of Dana Point Harbor. While the rest of us wonder whether we’ll catch a glimpse of some marine life on this bright Southern California morning, Anderson displays absolute certainty of a coming encounter.  

It’s no surprise that people all over the world book with Anderson for his whale and dolphin watching excursions. Anderson’s knowledge of local sea life coupled with the magic of the ocean make for a memorable voyage.

Coast spent a day with this whale whisperer to learn about the behind-the-scenes adventures of an extraordinary sea captain.

2 A.M. Shouldn’t he be sleeping? Nope, the previous day is finally coming to an end for Anderson. He is working on the final edits for his new book, Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey. The book began over 18 months ago, and now, 192 pages later, with over 300 photos, it is finally complete. It will offer an exciting, first-hand look at the life and disentanglement of Lily, the gray whale who came to Dana Point in 2010.

6 A.M. Anderson has breakfast with his wife, Gisele, and daughter, Arielle, while working on various projects and research.

7 A.M. Dolphin Safari team members arrive and begin preparing for the day’s guests and trips. “My crew is very good; they know their stuff. Most even have their captain’s license,” says Anderson. The previous day’s sightings are posted and the boats are fueled up. The one-of-a-kind underwater viewing pod gets a final cleaning, and whalewatchingtv.com is turned on so viewers can watch live from home. Finally, Mrs. Capt. Dave’s mouthwatering brownies are placed in a gift basket.

9 A.M. Passengers arrive and are loaded onto the boat for the first trip of the day. Everyone cheers when Anderson is introduced and the engines rev to life.

9:30 A.M. Anderson can be spotted looking through binoculars and communicating with other skippers and sailors. He looks for signs of life in the water such as trails of birds, splashes, water disturbances, and blowhole clouds.

10:05 A.M. The first whale sighting! It is a big, beautiful gray whale with a white tail gleaming in the sunlight. Passengers squeal with excitement and photos are taken as we follow the giant.

11 A.M. Dolphin sightings! Anderson explains the difference between dolphins and opens up the famous viewing pods for passengers to have an eye-opening experience with the dolphins. Your heart may skip a beat seeing these beautiful animals swimming alongside you.

12 P.M. The boat makes its way safely back to the harbor. Anderson hands over the wheel and joins the passengers for a Q & A session with exciting stories. By the end of the trip, we all feel a close connection with the boat, sea animals and Anderson.

3 P.M. Anderson spends time with documentary filmmaker and producer Lad Allen from Illustra Media, who has joined the trips to gather footage for his next film.

6:30 P.M. The last trip of the day has returned to the dock and the boats are washed down, cleaned up and prepped for the next day.

8 P.M. Anderson is back at his desk, collecting research for various projects. After 18 months of hard work and the completion of Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey, Anderson is already thinking about his next project while still providing Orange County with daily dolphin and whale safaris.

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