The dolphin pod, which is made up of both Pacific white-sided dolphins and northern right whale dolphins, can be seen swimming alongside the massive humpback whale and its calf. Nancy Black, marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Whale Watch, told the San Francisco Chronicle she estimates the pod included roughly 1,500 dolphins.
The playful scene gives us an inside look at what Monterey Bay Whale Watch representatives refer to as “snout riding,” a play on the term of bow riding, which occurs when dolphins hitch a ride on the waves created by boats and ships (or in this case, the whales).
When the whales swim through the water, they create pressure waves around their heads, which dolphins often enjoy riding, Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director for the North American office of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation told Travel + Leisure.
Asmutis-Silvia said she’s also seen whales actively insert themselves into dolphin pods.
“They’re aware that there’s something around them and will interact with them,” Asmutis-Silvia said of her encounters off of Cape Cod. “They’re smart animals and there’s definitely a level of awareness and intelligence there, and there’s no reason to think they don’t engage in behaviors simply because they are fun and feel good.”