‘Super pod’ of dolphins seen off California coast

DANA POINT, Calif. — Viewers on a southern California whale watching tour got more than they bargained for when they witnessed nearly 1,000 dolphins swimming together alongside their boat.

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Spectators on the Dana Wharf Whale Watching vessel watched the “super pod” of dolphins for nearly four hours March 14, according to the charter boat company.

“This behavior is known as the Dolphin Stampede, we were the first location to coin the phrase,” the whale watching company said on social media. “The dolphins take off so fast they turn up the water making it white water, you can hear them swimming through the rushing water. They are so graceful even in the frenzied behavior and we are so amazed to see them right of our coast.”

Bottlenose dolphins can be seen off coasts throughout the world and are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“Bottlenose dolphins are very social animals, and often travel and hunt in groups called pods,” according to the Smithsonian. “The most common is a nursery group of 5-20 dolphins made up of females and their calves — although occasionally they will gather in groups (with males) of 1,000 or more.”

Sightings of that many dolphins at once are rare but happen from time to time.

Last year, a super pod of dolphins were seen off Laguna Beach. In 2019, a large group was seen off Dana Point. Another large pod was also seen off the coast of Monterey that year. In 2015, thousands of dolphins were again seen off Dana Point. One of the largest groups of dolphins, an estimated 100,000, were seen off San Diego in 2013.