Dolphin Stampede

Candice Gaukel Andrews April 26, 2012 9

In September 2008 while their boat was in the Sea of Cortez between Isla Ángel de la Guarda and Bahia de los Angeles, Mexico, some fishermen encountered a pod of dolphins. The animals are known for their “bow riding” and playfulness at spotting boats; but when you run into a large pod of them, their individual glee is collected into what’s known as a “dolphin stampede.”

In fact, Southern California researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who has spent years studying local marine mammals and who has been among pods of up to ten thousand common dolphins, said she has never witnessed them exhibit what resembles a negative reaction to a boat. They either race over to it; or, if they’re feeding, they simply ignore it.

According to the Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast, written by National Marine Fisheries Service scientists, of all of the dolphin species around the world, “Common dolphins are the most renowned and skilled for their delight in bow riding” alongside moving boats. Alisa Schulman-Janiger concurs that the mammals do seem to enjoy the interaction — which they typically initiate — and that they’re amazingly adept at avoiding moving vessels.

Moving vessels? Yes, but other dolphins?

Watch the first video of a dolphin stampede below. And then take a look at the mid-air collision in the second. These dolphins give the phrase “living ocean” a new meaning!


  1. Nancy April 26, 2012 at 6:10 am -

    Wow! Great footage, Candice. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Sybilla April 26, 2012 at 9:28 am -

    Nice and real! I’ll show it to the students…great video, very lifefull!

  3. D. B. April 26, 2012 at 9:30 am -

    Never heard it called a stampede before – a friend of mine, a fisherman from the west of Ireland, once watched Atlantic white-sided dolphins from his boat, standing on his wheel house roof he could see nothing but dolphins jumping in all directions for 20 minutes – that’s not a stampede, it’s a migration. I remember we did a calculation of the distance to the horizon when standing on his wheel house, then calculated the area of the circle of sea around him – I forget the figures we came up with, but he must have been watching hundreds of thousands of dolphins

  4. Nancy April 26, 2012 at 9:31 am -

    Unbelievable video, Candice! Thanks for sharing with us here ~

  5. K. M. P. April 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm -

    Fascinating. Thank you! I’ve encountered this on a sailboat, just a few miles out to sea from Marina del Ray. Really leaves an impression. Love it!

  6. Stephen April 28, 2012 at 4:41 am -

    I love watching Dolphins & Porpoises ‘bow riding’.

  7. Boyd Lemon April 29, 2012 at 6:59 am -

    Saw one of about 200 dolphins while on a boat coming back from Santa Cruz, one of the Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura/Santa Barbara, California about a year ago. Amazing!

  8. Karen May 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm -

    Beautiful footage! How lucky to have been there at the right time. I hope the dolphin’s in the second clip were not hurt.

  9. Mandy May 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm -

    Wonderful footage of the Dolphins that!