A video titled “Dana Point Dolphin Stampede,” showing perhaps 2,000 common dolphins in a frenetic charge alongside a Southern California whale-watching boat, is stirring emotions ranging from awe to dismay as it gets passed around on the Internet.
[More on Yahoo: Video - In pursuit of a Midwest twister]
The spectacle, filmed last week aboard the Dana Pride out of Orange County, Calif., has made local and national news and the footage has led some to fall under the impression that the dolphins were being frightened or even struck by the vessel, even though common dolphins are known to approach boats in large numbers and veteran ocean-goers witness this type of event fairly frequently.
“I want to know why the boat didn’t stop instead of plowing through those dolphins? I wonder how many of them got hit,” reads a comment beneath a video report on the Weather Channel website.
A Discovery News report stated: “Contrary to the idea that the dolphins are having a grand ol’ time, it’s more likely that the noise, vibration and water turbulence caused by the boat may have frightened the dolphins, which all reacted at once. As one YouTube commenter asks: ‘Do you really have to drive your boat through the middle of them?’ “
[More from GrindTV: Video - Himalayan brown bear reveals real-life 'Kung Fu Panda' skills ]
But the reality is, when large pods of common dolphins are close to a moving boat, it’s virtually impossible to avoid these types of encounters. The mammals do seem to enjoy the interaction, which they typically initiate, and they’re amazingly adept at avoiding moving vessels.
Southern California researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who has spent years studying local marine mammals, said she has never witnessed common dolphins exhibiting what resembles a negative reaction to a boat.
“They either ignore the boat, usually if they’re feeding, or they race over to the boat,” said the researcher, who has been amid pods of up to 10,000 common dolphins.
The new Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast, written by National Marine Fisheries Service scientists, states that of all dolphin species globally, “Common dolphins are the most renowned and skilled for their delight in bow-riding” alongside moving boats.
The video was uploaded via YouTube on Feb. 23 by Dana Wharf Whale Watching, which did not anticipate so many negative comments from people who simply do not understand this phenomenon.
Not all the comments were negative, though, and some were amusing.
Reads this one from a user named Nesheim: “I want to know which direction they were going, so that I can order a trip in the same direction. This has Armageddon written all over it.”