Dolphin aficionados were treated to quite the lovely spectacle on Valentine’s Day in San Diego as a so-called super-pod of thousands of pelagic dolphins was spotted bounding like a vortex in the Pacific Ocean. One eyewitness estimated the size of the aquatic stampede to be 35 square miles.
“This is how life is for pelagic dolphins,” wrote Dr. Naomi Rose, Senior Scientist at Humane Society International, to TakePart in an email. “They are often seen in the open ocean in groups of thousands—aside from the sociality of their nature, it is an effective anti-predator behavior when there are no land features to use for defense or safety.”
“They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see,” said eyewitness Joe Dutra, to the local NBC affiliate.
Dutra, a captain of a local cruise line, was out on his daily tour with a boat full of nature watchers when he spotted the massive group of dolphins. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here, but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever.”
“The dolphins weren’t necessarily chasing anything. They were probably just going from point A to point B—and that’s how they do it sometimes, in these huge pods porpoising at top speed,” wrote Rose. “They may have been heading for good fishing or fleeing from something frightening as well, but this is simply how they travel sometimes.”
The size of any dolphin pod varies widely depending on the type of cetacean and what’s going on around them.
“Coastal cetacean species tend to live in smaller groups—bottlenose dolphins are usually found in populations of a few hundred at most,” wrote Rose. “Belugas are sometimes found in pods numbering 1,000 or more, but this tends to be during migratory seasons—otherwise, they are also found in groups on the order of 100s. But pelagic species—Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, common dolphins, and species like spinner dolphins—are often found in groups of thousands.”
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An Angelino by way of Wilkes-Barre, PA, Sal holds a Political Science degree from George Washington University. Though he began his career in sports, he's written about all things environment since 2007. @SalCardoni | Email Sal | TakePart.com