Dolphins, Dolphin Watching, Dolphin Safari

Generally we see five different species of wild dolphin during our regular Dolphin & Whale Watching Safaris. Long-beaked Common Dolphin, Short-beaked Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin, and Pacific White-sided Dolphin. What many people don’t know is that right off the coast of Southern California are some of the largest dolphin “pods” or herds in the world. We have more dolphins in our area than anywhere else in the world!

Whales and Dolphins are related!

The dolphin belongs to the group of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. Together, they are called cetaceans (cet– AY– shuns). The bottlenose dolphin is a small, toothed whale that belongs to the Delphinidae family. There are at least 31 species in this family. Among the other toothed whales of the Delphinidae family are pilot whales, common dolphins, spotted dolphins, and orcas, also known as killer whales.

Join our Dolphin Safari Adventures!

Daily, year round, dolphin and whale watching aboard a customized catamarans designed by Captain Dave to get you up close and personal with dolphins, whales, and more.

Common Dolphin

Terrible name for a beautiful animal! They average about 6 feet long but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. We have over 400,000 common dolphin off of Southern California. A typical pod of Common Dolphin will number around 200 and we often see herds that number over 1,000. The largest pod in our area according to scientific estimates numbered no less than 10,000 dolphins! Common dolphin are seen off the Southern California coast all year long and we see them on almost every dolphin and whale watching safari.

All photos taken during our regular Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari


Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose are one of the most well known species of dolphin. “Flipper” was a Bottlenose Dolphin! They are larger than Common Dolphin with an average length of 8 to 12 feet and very playful, often responding with acrobatic performances to the clapping and cheering of whale watchers. They like to eat fish and squid have been seen following pods of Risso’s Dolphins around, who also eat squid. We see two types of Bottlenose Dolphin throughout the year: coastal Bottlenose are the dolphin you can see from the beach and offshore Bottlenose Dolphin. Bottlenose dolphin are seen all year round. One locally famous Bottlenose, named Patches (see video below), is easily distinguished by its unique black and white coloring.

All photos taken during our regular Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari


Risso’s Dolphin

Risso’s Dolphin, sometimes called the Grampus Dolphin, are seen throughout the year off Orange County. They tend to be very shy and rarely bow ride. Risso’s are very unusual looking with a blunt, round head. They are dark gray with lots of white scarring. The younger Risso’s are darker in color and they turn progressively whiter as they age, sort of like us! The average size is 10 to 12 feet in length. We don’t know a lot about Risso’s Dolphin such as how long they live, where they go when they’re not in our area, and how long it takes for them to have their calves. But we do know they like to eat squid! When Risso’s are around it’s almost a sure bet that squid are in the area.

All photos taken during our regular Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari


Pacific White-sided Dolphin

Pacific White-sided Dolphin are very friendly and playful. They love to bow ride and we’ve even witnessed them “playing” with Gray Whales by sliding across the whale’s belly while it’s rolled upside down! They’re a beautiful and unique animal and the the only black and white dolphin we see on a semi-regular basis. (We do see Killer Whales, which are technically a dolphin, but only on rare occasions.) They average 7 to 8 feet in length. The best time to see Pacific White-sided Dolphin is during the colder months of October through May.

All photos taken during our regular Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari


Additional Dolphin Watching Videos You May Enjoy:

Incredible viral video by Capt. Dave of a Dana Point dolphin stampede from the air! Also in this breathtaking video filmed with his drone are gray whales off San Clemente and mother and calf humpback whales off of Maui.


Dolphin Stampede!

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