Dolphins often steal the spotlight during the whale-watching season, but rarely do passengers get to witness what's known as a dolphin stampede.
The accompanying footage, captured Thursday by Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari, shows what happens when hundreds, sometimes thousands of common dolphins decide as a group to rush wildly across the ocean’s surface, as if in a panic.
The company stated in a news release:
“Whale watchers aboard a catamaran with Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari experienced a once in a lifetime thrill when hundreds of common dolphins, without warning or provocation, began porpoising at high speed out of the water.
“Often referred to as a dolphin stampede, this breathtaking behavior can happen at any time and without any apparent cause. Porpoising is the fastest mode of travel for dolphins because there is less resistance in air than water.”
The dolphins are not panicked, of course, and are not in serious danger of being hit by the boat. In fact, common dolphins are famous for racing toward boats, bow riding, and surfing the vessels' wakes. But stampeding behavior takes this type of seeming playfulness to a new level.
In 2012, also off Dana Point, a more dramatic stampede was recorded by Dana Wharf Whale Watch. The footage went viral, with the video (posted above) garnering nearly 2 million views.
Many expressed outrage that the fast-moving boat was placing the dolphins in danger, when in fact the boat was inspiring their playful behavior.