Endangered blue whales, the largest living animal on earth, are populating the waters off Dana Point, California, in huge numbers. There are so many whales that pods of dolphins are joining the whale watching fun!
Passengers aboard “Manute’a”, a high-tech catamaran sailboat operated by Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, were hoping to see whales and dolphins this past weekend. They were surprised and elated to get up close with both, at the same time! As a huge blue whale came towards the boat, which was stationary and in neutral, a pod of bottlenose dolphins joined the whale and began bow riding on the pressure wave created by the massive leviathan.
“Dolphins, when they are little, will get up next to mom and ride her pressure wave created by her moving through the water. They get a free ride so they can keep up with the pod. When they are older they will ride the bow of a boat or even a whale. This blue whale is dolphin entertainment. They seem to be following it even if it changes direction so it is not just for hitching a ride where they are going. These dolphins appear to be actually whale watching and playing with and off of this gigantic blue whale. This is a rare sighting and so glad we caught it on video,” says Captain Dave.
The blue whale is known to the crew of Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, too. Via photo recapture identification it is confirmed to be a whale nicknamed Blue Ray. Blue Ray was seen multiple times last year is known to be friendly and curious. Photo recapture studies help to provide whale watchers with a personal history of the animal for a more interesting and educational whale watching experience.
Southern California has more oceanic dolphins per square mile than anywhere else in the world. And during the summer months there are more blue whales off Southern California than anywhere on earth. Between June and October blue whales migrate to California waters to feed on krill, a little shrimp-like crustacean.
Blue whales are a protected species after almost being hunted to extinction in the early 1900’s. And though whaling is no longer considered a major threat to blue whales, ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are ongoing risks with potentially deadly consequences. Nearly 1,000 dolphins and whales die every day, worldwide, in fishing gear entanglement. Captain Dave organized Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group and has successfully disentangled several gray whales, including the gray whale Lily, whose disentanglement made national headlines. Captain Dave wrote and published the award winning book, “Lily, A Gray Whale’s Odyssey”, about a gray whale’s migration.