In Lily – A Gray Whale’s Odyssey, author David Anderson narrates through the voice of the book’s namesake, Lily, a gray whale.
It’s a harrowing journey that begins with the whale’s birth off the coast of northern Mexico, traveling north along the Pacific coast, and through the waters near Canada and Russia. Along the way, gray whales like Lily encounter plenty of danger – hunters’ harpoons, natural prey such as orcas and the threat of entanglement in fishermen’s nets. Despite all of these traps, however, Lily makes it – a survivor in an ocean full of peril.
In real life, however, Lily did not make it. You may remember her tragic story, which captivated millions in May 2010. The young whale had drifted into Dana Point Harbor sick, emaciated and injured, the result of having become entangled in nearly 100 pounds of rope and fishing nets. Viewers tuned into major networks to watch with anticipation as workers struggled to free her. It seemed that the whole world was cheering for Lily’s rescue, but the debris clinging to her body proved too much.
Author David Anderson, better known as Capt. Dave, owner and operator of Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari in Dana Point, was one of those helping to save Lily. So taken was he with Lily’s story that he wrote Lily, which documents the efforts to save her (albeit with a happy ending). His hope was to shed light on the plight of gray whales and to bring attention to the marine population off the coast of Southern California. He did both, forming one of OC’s first whale disentanglement groups (Dolphin Safari Whale Rescue) and generating interest in the creatures that have captivated him since he was a kid.
“My passion is to raise awareness for dolphins and whales,” says Anderson. “It’s life-changing for people to see these animals and know that they are here off of our coast. The more people know they’re here, the more people will want to help protect them.”
Raising awareness about Southern California’s marine life is what Anderson has been doing for the past 20 years by taking guests out to sea for his signature dolphin and whale safaris.
A typical day in October might include sightings of dolphins, blue whales (the largest known animal ever), minke whales, sea lions, humpback whales, and elephant seals. In other seasons, usually the winter, orcas can be spotted, as well as gray whales, Lily’s kin.
“We really have the best year-round whale watching on the planet,” says Anderson. “Most people don’t realize what we have here.”
As for Lily? It’s because of her that whale entanglement has become an issue at the forefront of marine mammal preservation.
Capt. Dave’s signature 2.5-hour dolphin and whale watching safari is $55 and departs daily from Dana Point Harbor. His newest boat, a beautiful 62’ Catamaran, is named Lily.
David Anderson is the producer and narrator of the documentary Wild Dolphins and Whales of Southern California, winner of seven awards at the International Wildlife Film Festival. Buy his award-winning book or the DVD online at Tales from the Pod for $55; half of the profits go to Kids Around the World, a charity that helps children in Haiti and Africa.
Experience the thrill of a herd of 1,000-plus dolphins stampeding down the Dana Point coast during one of Capt. Dave’s safaris. A video of the event can be found on the company’s website.