When Mamals Swim


Last weekend, needing a getaway from the stress of LA, I took a road-trip to San Pedro and then hopped on a high-speed catamaran to the island of Catalina. Having visited many of the Greek islands, I didn't have high hopes that the trip to Catalina would be eventful or inspiring as much as it would be relaxing in a pig-out-on-junk-food, sprawl-out-on-the-beach, read-some-trashy-magazines kind of way. After all, about the only interesting thing 3,000 locals say regarding their neck of the woods is: "Hey, Jack Nicholson filmed a bunch of scenes from Chinatown here!"

Kind of pales in comparison to stories I'd heard in Delos about the sungod, Apollo.

But I couldn't have been more wrong. (Not about the Jack Nicholson/Apollo comparison, but about the trip not being eventful or inspiring.)

On the catamaran over, we actually had to slow down for a mile or so as the largest school of dolphins I'd ever seen, made its way through the Pacific. It was almost as if we were being attacked by the finned creatures. Then I heard the slacker-of-a-first-mate say, "Dooood, they're porpoises, not dolphins." Which of course got me wondering not only about the spelling of dude when drawn out for several seconds, but about the difference between the two mamals.

As explained by Slacker-matey, the dorsal fin on porpoises is triangular, like a shark's, while a dolphin's is shaped more like a wave. Porpoises don't have the prominent rostrum or beak that Flipper had, either, and are smaller animals in general.

Then he actually went on to say that porpoises are shy animals. "Dooood," he began again, "it's like, soOoo rare that they approach people or boats. You guys so totally lucked out." Which was exactly how I felt: Lucky.