Here’s Looking at you Kid – Swimming with Whales in La Jolla

click on image to see detail

I’ve had this piece of paper around for years, a favorite drawing of a harbor seal – oil paint on paper

Being nutty about ocean swimming, I even sketched while looking at videos on TV.

Graphite on faded newsprint

The seals popped up next to me when I  ocean swam. Their dark, shinny eyes looked like the eyes of puppies who were coming up to check me out. One would swim with me for awhile then duck under water and be gone. They slip through the water effortlessly and fast.

Two times I swam with whales. The first time I was having an ocean swimming lesson because, at that time, I was scared of the sea. My teacher, wearing fins, would go down to the ocean floor and bring up anything that frightened me. I could touch it and  see it wasn’t a monster then I could move on. One day a whale popped up next to us. My teacher left me. I didn’t have fins. After I got over being terrified, I decided to tread water and enjoy my experience. He measured about 5 trucks long, a baby. He circled me, very close. I could see barnacles near his eyes. He finially left and I swam back to the cove.

Another time I was swimming a very familiar route – one I had swam every day for years. I noticed a very smooth grey rock  just a whisper away from my hand pulling the water as I swam. I thought, I don’t remember a smooth grey rock here. Then it sunk in. He could flip me out of the water with his fluke, tail fin! I headed to shore. I thought, I’m going to swim as fast as I could. I already was swimming as fast as I could. When I got back to the beach I asked the lifeguard if there was anything out there. Yes, you were swimming with a baby grey whale who had gotten lost and had ended up close to shore.

9 thoughts on “Here’s Looking at you Kid – Swimming with Whales in La Jolla

  1. Love the whale memories, as I have a wish to swim with them too. Check out Diane Ackerman’s lovely story “Whale by Moonlight”.


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