Elebenty gazillion dolphins

January 10, 2013 • 12:06 pm

I’ve seen one or two dolphins in the wild in my life, but nothing like this Dolphin Woodstock. I had no idea that they ran in packs so large, and I don’t know why they keep leaping out of the water. Is that play? Surely some reader will know the answer.

Regardless, I’d like to see something like this once in my life.  They’re such beautiful animals; and isn’t it better to see them this way than to pen them in small pools and make them do tricks so that aquaria and PrisonerWorlds can get rich?

h/t: Michael

39 thoughts on “Elebenty gazillion dolphins

  1. I’ve only been whale-watching once, and sadly, there were no dolphins. There were like a dozen Minke whales hanging around, enough that about halfway to the place we were heading, the boat captain said we weren’t going to stop or detour for any more Minkes, or we’d never make it back to port on time.

    I’d like to go again: maybe this time there will be dolphins. And it was nice to see whales swimming around doing their whale thing, since they don’t seem to think the humans in their bitty boat are a threat.

  2. A friend sent me this earlier. Why do they call thuis a “stampede”. Doesn’t look like a stampede to me: It just looks like a large pod moving out together.

  3. Come to Long Beach, California! They come here often! I have taken so many people to the tours because they really need support to keep it open and going! You can go on 2 hour tours to watch wales an dolphins in the ocean. If you ever decide to come this way, I’ll be more than happy to be a your guide! 🙂

  4. From what I can tell from the video it looks like these are probably a type of common dolphins (genus Delphinus) which do often live in aggregates of hundreds or even thousands of individuals, as opposed to the more well-known bottlenose dolphins (genus Tursiops) which are more typically found in small groups.

    The leaping in this context is most likely the most efficient way to breathe while traveling at speed, which they’re probably doing to gain hydrodynamic benefits from the ships’s wake, i.e. bowriding. It’s pretty cool how at a couple points in the video you can see mother-calf pairs leaping in perfect synchrony!

    1. I’m pretty sure these are Pacific white sided dolphins. I saw huge school of them once, uncountable thousands, off Monterey, California.

      If you’d like to see marine mammals in the wild, take a boat trip out of Monterey about Feb. or March and you’ll likely see several species, everything from grey whales to sea otters.

    2. Also air offers hundreds of times less resistance to motion so what you’re seeing is probably the most efficient way to travel.

  5. You are almost guaranteed a sighting on the crossing from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly. I’d love to show you around the place if you’re ever in this desolate outcrop of the UK.

  6. You get large pods of dolphins (plus sharks and sealions) during the sardine run off the coast of South Africa – pretty spectacular.

  7. I’d rather have none, but if people feel the need to see live dolphins, aquaria are way preferable to dolphin watching at the sea, less animals are affected per human visitor. «Ecotourism» should not be promoted, it’s highly disruptive.

    From a relatively recent paper on dolphin watching in Australia:

    «Presence of dolphin-watching boats altered both the dolphins’ behavioural states and activity budgets. Dolphins spent 66.5% less time feeding and 44.2% less time socialising, spent four times more milling, and were never observed to rest in the presence of dolphin-watching boats.»

    Andre Steckenreuter, Luciana Möller, Robert Harcourt (2012). Journal of Environmental Management 97 (2012) 14e21.

  8. No doubt the leaping is part play and part breathing and part herding food.

    I spent 20 years in central FL where dolphins and manatees are commonplace.

  9. While in the middle east I was lucky enough to see just one lone dolphin in the sea…quite close to shore. It was so exhilirating because I had only ever seen them in aquariams etc.. Something about seeing them in the wild..even just the one.

  10. While on vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we’ve often seen small pods of bottlenose dolphins and (more rarely) pilot whales swimming just offshore, especially in the first couple of hours after sunrise. They’re easy to watch from the beach or (for a slightly better view) from a fishing pier – no boat needed!

  11. One day, when crossing the equator en route to Diego Garcia and during the concommitment Crossing the Equator “ceremony,” it was my great good fortune to be on the bridge of my U.S. Navy ship and see a great herd of dolphins off the starboard bow, closing in on the ship (and eventually passing down the starboard side at approx. half a ship’s length (about 480 ft.) at its closest point of approach.

    What with the military standards of bearing, deportment and circumspection being temporarily suspended, the OOD (Officer of the Deck), in a minor and spontaneous fit of inspiration, got on the ship’s 1MC (general announcing system), and proclaimed words-to-the-effect, “Behold! Off the staaaarrboard boooooww, a greeaaaat heeerd of dooolllphinns, portennndiiinngg the imminent arriiiiival of His Dreadful Majesty, Neptunus Rex, King of the Seven Seeeeaaaaassss!”

    Some sailors later remarked to the effect that they thought it was just crossing-the-equator hot air until they ventured onto the main deck to satisfy their curiosity.

      1. This supply ship (an “AFS,” or as we kidded amongst ourselves, an “Attack Food Ship”), was less than 20,000 tons. A carrier is larger, approx. 1100 ft., 100,000 tons. A petroleum “supertanker” even longer, around 150,000 tons, maybe even bigger.

        1. Thanks!

          My Dad was a merchant captain, but “large” at the time of his retirement meant about 600′ or so, IIRC.

          Great equator story, too!

  12. I once got to see a line of dolphins come up behind our ship while leaping like this and pass us. The line extended to the horizon on both sides of the ship. The closest ones, of course played in our bow wave and dove under us. It was never clear just how many were out of sight while some were leaping, but there were many hundreds at least in the pod.

    We were only doing 9 knots and in half an hour they had passed us and were gone over the horizon ahead of us. Made me wonder what thought they had of destinations and things that needed to be done. Could have been just a line abreast search for concentrations of bait fish or a seasonal migration or just because.

    Mysteries of the sea, they remain yet awhile.

    1. A concave-forward parabola is better than line abreast, fish fleeing the nearest dolphins head for the focus and end up like this (I’ve seen an aerial shot somewhere of either dolphins or large tuna in a good parabola, but a quick search failed to turn it up online). Also the dolphins have direct line-of-hearing with all their pals. Presumably the dolphins’d take turns on the flanks, like migrating geese at the head of the V.

      A wide enough parabola might be hard to distinguish from a straight line.

  13. I don’t know why the group is so large, but they are clearly hauling ass, and when dolphins or penguins need to do so they engage in a swimming mode known as porpoising (porpoises do it too, on porpoise). It can be demonstrated that bouncing in and out of the water is a more efficient mode of forward motion along the air water interface than either swimming well below the surface, or flying above (if you’re a dolphin, in which case your options are limited!).

  14. My guess would be that since these dolphins are traveling, so, to swim faster, they respire faster. Since they breathe through lungs, they keep leaping out frequently.

    We recently saw a pod of nearly 60 humpback dolphins in Arabian sea along Maharashtra coastline (India). They were feeding and the calves were probably playfully leaping out of water. It was spectacular!

  15. i once had an ephiphanic sequence on a full moon night on the Hellenic Line’s Hellenic Splendor as we navigated through the Straits of Hormuz, a completely windless night, a silver lake of Persian Gulf, the Splendor humming along at a low speed, very slight vibrations of the metal, the moonlit sandstone cliffs on both sdes, and a herd of dolphins surfing the Splendors bow wave! probably the most magical moment of my life, i was on the bridge first, talking to the young second lieutenant, a Greek ship, a friend, and then decided to go on deck and up front. lots of orca herds a friend writes at the tip of the Baja, and in the Sea of Cortez as I myself can testify. Orcas, their cousins, however kill them. http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name

  16. What are the dolphins doing?
    They are enjoying themselves.
    Communist, dangerous non-AmeriKKKann dolphins, I just bet that they are pinko-commmie subsersives, who should have been shot generations ago.. Definitely shoot all subversives ; it’s safer that way tthanskinging anyone

  17. Strongly recommend watching the sardine run episode from Nature’s Great Events by the BBC, this clip shows the end of the episode, but earlier there are great shots of the dolphins gathering in huge numbers beforehand.

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