Boaters encounter mega-pod of thousands of dolphins

On his daily tour, Capt. Joe Dutra of Hornblower Cruises in California encountered what he called a “super mega-pod” of thousands of swimming dolphins that he estimated to be five miles wide and seven miles long. Dolphins’ social groups usually number no more than 200 individuals, but abundant resources could bring multiple pods together, said scientist Sarah Wilkin. “They were coming from all directions — you could see them from as far as the eye can see,” Dutra said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here … but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever.” KNSD-TV (San Diego)

Thousands of dolphins spanning across 7 miles of ocean were  sighted off the coast of San Diego on Thursday, a boat captain told NBC 7 San  Diego.

Capt. Joe Dutra of Hornblower Cruises said he saw a “super mega-pod” of common  dolphins Thursday around noon while he was on his daily tour. He said the pod  was more than 7 miles long and 5 miles wide.

Dutra said the boat tour followed the pod for more than an  hour and said he’s never seen anything like it.

“When you see something that is honestly truly beyond  belief,” the captain said.

Guests aboard the boat started screaming and pointing when  they first saw the school of adult and juvenile common dolphins. Dutra estimated  there were about 100,000 dolphins swimming in the area.

“They were coming from all directions, you could see them  from as far as the eye can see,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here… but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever.” Whale and dolphin watching tours have done particularly well this year, with  dozens of animal sightings reported.

Marine mammal expert Sarah Wilkin said the reason the large  pod might be there is because there’s plenty of food in the area, including  sardines, herring and squid.

“They’re attracted to kind of the same thing, they might wind  up in the same place,” she said.

Though dolphins typically travel in groups of 200 or less,  Wilkin said “super-pods” are not unheard of.

“They’re definitely social animals, they stick together in  small groups,” she said. “But sometimes, the schools come together.”

Dutra, who’s been boating for decades, said he felt lucky to  enjoy such a rare phenomenon.

“You had to be there to experience it,” he said.  “It  was truly spectacular.”


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