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Video Captures Huge Dolphin Superpod Chasing Prey In Monterey Bay

author

Aliyah Kovner

Science Writer

clockSep 11 2018, 11:40 UTC

All dolphins are gorgeous, but the common dolphin's unique stripe makes them particularly stunning. Puffin's Pictures/Shutterstock

2018 has been full of somber news about cetaceans. From the report that northwestern Pacific Orca populations are at a 30-year low, to the announcement that no North Atlantic right whales were born during the critically engendered species’ calving season, to the release of documents showing that 333 Antarctic minke whales were slaughtered in the name of “research”, there is an unsettling abundance of reasons to be concerned for these hyper-intelligent marine mammals.

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But not every species is struggling, as a fantastic new video from the Monterey Bay Aquarium wonderfully showcases.

Despite the extreme impact human activities have on ocean ecosystems, the short-beaked common dolphin is still, well, common throughout its range. The famously energetic and acrobatic 1.5- to 2.4-meter (5- to 8-feet) long creatures are found throughout the Mediterranean, the tropical to temperate waters of the Pacific, the Mid-Atlantic, and the southeast Indian Ocean.

An extremely social dolphin, common dolphins live in massive groups – also known as superpods – of hundreds to several thousand individuals. With such a larger number of mouths to feed, superpods tend to seek out the ecologically rich habitats that form around areas of seasonal cold water-upwelling.

As you might have guessed, one such biological hotspot is Monterey Bay. In the above scene, captured by Patrick Webster on September 7, hundreds of common dolphins are gracefully swimming and leaping in coordination as they work to corral a school of fish that they have cornered in shallow waters not far from the resort-dotted beachline. 

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"The event isn't uncommon per se—it's a yearly occurrence, we have seen these superpods from the back deck at the Monterey Bay Aquarium this time of year before," Webster, the aquarium’s social media content creator, told NPR. "However, it is fairly rare to see them this close to shore and so readily observable by people, these gatherings are often found way offshore."

According to NOAA, healthy superpods live off the California coast year-round. In marine areas with less consistently abundant ecosystems, common dolphins must move around much more.

[H/T: NPR]


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