A lucky photographer snapped the photos of a lifetime when she caught a pod of dolphins riding a wave together off the coast of Sydney, Australia.
The ocean is filled with countless creatures, each more mysterious and magical than the next. Dolphins, however, have always captivated us in a unique way, even more so than other aquatic wildlife.
Nothing is quite as awe-inspiring as watching a dolphin gracefully navigate its way through the waves. Well, except maybe an entire pod doing so in sync.
On May 10, photographer Jessica Blacklow captured one such stunning scene, sharing the photos to her Facebook page, Wiltliving.
“I have never seen so many dolphins riding one wave together like that,” Blacklow told Newsweek. “It must have been my lucky day.”
A resident of Newcastle in New South Wales, Blacklow happened to be visiting the Sydney beach when the unbelievable moment occurred. “I saw some movement by the dolphins with a wave coming,” she said. “They usually jump out the back of the wave and I’m never fast enough to catch them. It all happened so fast and then they were gone.”
Witnessing this behavior is relatively rare, let alone capturing it on camera. That said, group surfing isn’t unusual behavior for dolphin pods. They’ve even been known to join human surfers from time to time.
Last January, for example, a group of California surfers was delighted to find a pod of dolphins riding the waves and leaping into the air around them.
Highly intelligent and social animals, dolphins love to play in the surf and sun, just like humans. According to experts, though, play is just one possible reason behind their family surf sessions.
Experts remain unsure why dolphin pods sometimes surf together
As David Lusseau, professor of marine sustainability at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark, explained, there hasn’t been enough research into dolphin pods’ group surfing to give a definite answer as to why they do it.
Play, however, is a solid theory, as dolphins are no strangers to playtime. When they aren’t hunting, many populations of the cheerful cetaceans spend a great deal of time playing and enjoying each other’s company.
“Play can take many forms,” Lusseau explained. “From interacting with objects such as macroalgae (kelp and the like), other animals, or human objects. For example, in a population where I used to work, individuals would pull the rope of fishing pots to sink the buoy, release it from the bottom, and race the buoy to the surface.”
“They would also play with kelp, carrying it on their flipper or their rostrum. These kelp games would also at times become social, with dolphins passing the kelp from one to another while others try to catch it.”
That said, while dolphin pods could simply be playing in the waves together, they could also be hunting. Dolphins are so good at having fun that they often mix play with mealtime.
By hopping into a wave, a dolphin pod can conceal its location in the roar of the water. In doing so, they can more easily sneak up on prey, but they also use the power of waves to hide from threats.
“Dolphins are extremely good at making use of their environment to meet their needs, whether it is fun or serious business,” Lusseau said.