An unusually large pod of dolphins put on a show for a Valentine's Day whale watching cruise off California last week, with as many as 100,000 dolphins forming a 7-mile-long, 5-mile-wide grouping.
Capt. Joe Dutra of Hornblower Cruises, who spotted the dolphins off the cost of San Diego while skippering his daily tour, told NBC San Diego
the rare sighting was "spectacular."
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here… but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever," Dutra said. "They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see.”
Because the sighting was so rare and the waters were relatively calm, Dutra opened up the front of the boat so spectators could get a better view, ABC 10News reported.
For more than an hour, the tourists onboard "ooh'd" and "aah'd" and snapped photos.
Dolphins usually travel in groups of less than 200, but marine mammal expert Sarah Wilkin told NBC that an abundance of food like squid, herring, or sardines could bring a crowd together.
"They’re definitely social animals, they stick together in small groups,” Wilkin said. “But sometimes, the schools come together.”
The phenomenon only occurred once. Several whale-watching cruises passed through the same area before and since the sighting, but the dolphins were nowhere to be seen, 10News reported.
Whale and dolphin watching tours have been booming in the San Diego area this past year. Sightings for the two species broke records in January.
Whales in particular are being spotted more and more. NBC San Diego reported data showing that there are 15 more whales traveling per day than a decade ago. A couple of years ago, people would typically see a couple of whales, but now groups of up to 10 whales are being spotted.
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