Boaters often encounter pods of dolphins, even very large pods. But only rarely do they encounter “super pods,” which are formed when several dolphin sub groups gather as one, and few have captured this event as beautifully as photographer Chase Jarvis and explorer Mike Horn.
They were aboard Horn’s 110-foot sailboat off Cape Town, South Africa, when perhaps as many as 10,000 common dolphins appeared around their boat, swimming in what’s sometimes referred to as stampede behavior.
“At first, on the horizon, we noticed what appeared to be a giant ball of bait fish,” Jarvis stated in a blog post about the encounter. “The water boiled for literally a mile in every direction … only as it approached at the speed of a swift wave did we see first a nose, then another, then a dorsal fin and then a thousand of them, then more.
“Only then did we realize we were experiencing the rare ‘super pod’ of dolphins. Not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of them — so thick you could have walked across their backs had they been game for it.”
Adds Horn in the video: “Even after sailing around the world seven times, 140,000 miles, this was the real first super pod I’ve seen. We were just standing there and all of us were dumbstruck and all of us, all of a sudden had this massive smile.”
Scientists believe that super pods are formed either as breeding opportunities or large-scale feeding opportunities–perhaps both.
Jarvis and Horn filmed this spectacle for only a few minutes, from a variety of angles, using every type of camera they could get their hands on.
“And while it’s impossible to truly convey the magic of this experience,” Jarvis writes, “I hope these clips give you just a little sliver of what it’s like to encounter something so rare and stunning–especially when you least expect it.”
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