This is the end, beautiful friend.
Friday happened to find me in Huntington Beach, California with two great friends and our young charges. We had gone to the shore, after a morning of school, to watch the Pacific Airshow. It was hot, apocalyptic hot, and as the Canadian Snowbirds flew in formation overhead it felt generally apocalyptic too.
There was a fine swell in the sheet glass though not one surfer out. It seemed disallowed, maybe in case one of the Snowbirds fell out of formation and into the lineup. One jet skier patrolled back and forth making sure it all stayed empty and would have opportunity to chase the odd hopeful who had trundled to water’s edge half wetsuited clutching yellowed funboard.
He would have to trundle back, legs very sweaty and observing the grimace became more enjoyable than fighter jets doing cutbacks.
Pleasure craft turned the area north of the pier all the way to 9th street into a Waterworld-esque parking lot. Freighters, waiting in line to unload cargo at Los Angeles’s overworked port stretched across the entire horizon.
A dystopia straight out of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s fevered dreams.
Little did I know oil had begun to seep from an offshore pipeline and would eventually dump more than 144,000 gallons into the brine. Little did I know the following morning a pod of dolphins fleeing that black death would almost kill a surfer in front of his son.
Joe Mozingo described his encounter in The Los Angeles Times, writing:
I had waited until midmorning for the tide to go down and the small waves to show a bit more strength. By 10:30 I had caught a few crumblers at the south end of Bolsa Chica State Beach and was paddling back out, when about 10 dolphins tore through the heavy crowd of surfers. One broke through the surface just a few feet ahead of me. “Whoa!” I said. They were racing north as fast as I’d ever seen.
Dolphins are a common sight in Huntington. But they usually saunter around, and swim fast only when they’re riding waves. When they do dart like that, it can be unnerving because they come alarmingly close, and at more than 300 pounds, they could cause a disastrous collision.
But I’ve never seen them make a mistake, so I just sat there and marveled for a minute. You could track them by watching the startled reaction of surfers as they moved up the coast.
“I’d never seen them do that,” I muttered to the surfer next to me, who looked gobsmacked.
When the boat wake had all but destroyed the surf, I went in. My son was already on the beach. “Dad, that dolphin almost killed you,” he said.
“Did you see that?” I asked, surprised he could see it from the beach. “That was insane.”
“It was like they were running from something,” he said.
Running from the end of the world.