Just yesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying some visiting Swiss friends on a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, something I have (embarrassingly enough) yet to do after living in the S.F. Bay Area for 5 years. With it’s huge cables and beautiful International Orange color, the bridge has been THE image of the city since, let’s see, 1937 when it opened. Either shrouded in Bay Area fog, or standing blazingly bright in California sunshine, it’s beautiful, and I wanted to conquer it.
It was the typical San Francisco weather when we got there – sunny but some high fog waiting to settle in, and then the almost ever present SF wind. Now I think most people would prefer non-windy days, but something about the wind makes me happy. Regardless of the fact that it makes my nose runny and red, my eyes watery, and my hair a tangled mess, somehow I feel like the most beautiful version of myself in coastal winds. As though I have morphed into a windswept nymphette, starry-eyed, morose, and desirable. Like an Audrey Kawasaki painting. Yes, it’s irrational; no, I don’t care. This day really wasn’t any different. With the delicious smells of coastal plants mixed with water droplets from passing fog, walking on the coastal trail hike up to the bridge, I was happy. In fact, my loose silk shirt was even fluttering around me ever so perfectly – how could it get better?
Walking onto the bridge I lost a little of my high. After all, the bikes, the people, they were everywhere. Combine that with the constant bridge pulsation (to prevent snapping in earthquakes etc.) and it’s rather terrifying. Especially as the rather small handrail is the only thing preventing someone, namely my clumsy self, from tumbling over. However, with the nice colors, and interesting patterns (as well as the lost child’s shoe on the edge) I was enjoying myself.
Then I noticed my Swiss friends staring down at the water. Wondering what it was, I went up to inquire. “A dolphin,” they answered. Silly Swiss, I thought, there aren’t any dolphins. Looking closely though, I did see an awesome spotted sea lion. After I informed them, no, it’s not a dolphin it’s a sea lion, all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw something. OMG they were right!!!!
Now, they were being calm pretty much the entire time, these Swiss (they don’t even have an ocean next to them, how can they be calm about DOLPHINS!!!!!!!!!!), but me – I’m freaking out. I pretty much turned all googly-eyed and ecstatic. Seriously, I jumped up and down and clapped my hands. But honestly, it’s dolphins, and I’m seeing them from atop the Golden Gate Bridge, how can I not be excited? I mean, ever since reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series (So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, anyone?) I’ve pretty much considered dolphins as intelligent as us, or more so (but I don’t extend that same courtesy to mice…). Recently India has declared them non-human persons, and lately scientists have even been able to prove that dolphins can remember their fellow dolphins’ names, or unique whistling signature, for at least 20 years without hearing it again. See? Smart. I’m lucky if I can remember the names of my classmates.
After watching for awhile it was easy to see that there were actually quite a few dolphins coming into the bay, and they were enjoying themselves. I tried to snap some photos as proof, but as we are really high up (usually over 220 feet) and my camera doesn’t have too much of a zoom, the results were a bit disappointing. You’ll see the better attempts below – look for the small, small shape cresting out of the water pretty much dead center.
So there you have it – my adventure on the Golden Gate Bridge. Pictures below, as well as more awesome links to check out great information on all things dolphins and Golden Gate Bridge. Enjoy!!!
Hackman, Jason. “India declares dolphins ‘non-human persons,’ dolphin shows banned.” Daily Kos: 30. July. 2013. <http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/30/1226634/-India-Declares-Dolphins-Non-Human-Persons-Dolphin-shows-BANNED>
Huff, Ethan A. “Animal intelligence now irrefutable: Bottlenose dolphins call each other by name.” Prison Planet. 1. August. 2013. <http://www.prisonplanet.com/animal-intelligence-now-irrefutable-bottlenose-dolphins-call-each-other-by-name.html>
Rohan, Anuschka de. “Deep Thinkers.” The Guardian. 2. July. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/science/2003/jul/03/research.science>
Yendell, Kate. “A Dolphin Doesn’t Forget.” The Scientist. 8. August. 2013. <http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/36939/title/A-Dolphin-Doesn-t-Forget/>
A great site to look for interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge: <http://goldengatebridge.org/research/facts.php>