Surf buddies Tim Earling and Jason Owen were next to each other in the water off Redondo Beach, paddling for the same wave, when something leaping out of the water made both of them suddenly stop.
“All of a sudden this gigantic dolphin jumped up out of nowhere, we were just in shock,” said Owen, recounting the early morning surf session Sept. 9 at Topaz Street. “We just kind of froze for a while.”
The large gray dolphin showed the two surfers who the real locals are, leaping in between the duo to snag the wave. The moment was captured by Owen’s SoloShot, a camera mounted on a tripod that follows a surfer wearing a special wristband out in the water.
“It picked up the whole clip of the scene,” said Earling.
“I just kind of spun around and there was a dolphin. You don’t know what’s jumping out of the water. We do have a lot of the dolphins, they are common here, we see them frequently. There’s always a ‘maybe it’s not a dolphin’ moment,’” he said. “I stopped and paused, and noticed a pod of about 10 of them. It’s always such a joy to watch that when it happens. … The fact that it was on video made it even better.”
A week prior, Earling got his first up-close look at sharks in the water when he saw three leopard sharks in the shallows.
“You have those sightings of great white sharks up at El Porto in Manhattan Beach,” he said. “There’s always a hesitation to look twice at everything. When those dolphins come in, they’ll just come in and swim around the surfer and give them a little show. It’s kind of a neat thrill. You are reminded you are sharing the water with more than just surfers.”
It makes you feel fortunate to get up close to ocean wildlife, he said.
“It’s just a neat experience and makes your day over any wave you could catch,” he said.
Owen joked that though he was in the right spot to catch the wave, the dolphins are the ones who have first rights. “We gave him priority. I had position, but I gave it to him anyways,” he said with a chuckle.
The surfers didn’t dare drop in on the dolphin.
“That one was huge,” he said. “It was a massive dolphin. Imagine that thing hitting you.”