Whale Befriends Dolphins During Magical Moment In Hawaii
Whales and dolphins are two of the ocean's most iconic animals, mammals perfectly equipped for life at sea. But while their particular anatomy and physiology may be quite distinct, the interactions they share often seem to hint that the two species can see past their differences.
In fact, footage collected of dolphins and whales together in the wild suggests they are really quite at home with one another.
A video shot off the coast of Waianae, Hawaii, earlier this month captures an impressive scene of a massive humpback whale tagging along with a group of dolphins - not blending in with the smaller animals per se, but neverless appearing to fit in alongside them in spirit.
The clip is regrettably brief, but diver Erin Lundy offers a few more details, describing the whale as acting "playfully" with the unworried-looking dolphins.
This isn't the first time whales and dolphins have been observed not merely tolerating each other, but participating in an activity that's probably fun for both. On at least two separate occasions, both off the coast of Hawaii, a humpback whale and bottlenose dolphin were photographed engaged in an odd behavior that, by all accounts, was driven by their shared amusement.
The dolphins were seen being willingly hoisted out of the water upon the beaks of the whales, then riding down their backs in a sort of 'slip-and-slide' activity.
And sure enough, researchers concluded that "play by the whale and social play by the dolphin seem to be the most plausible explanations for the interaction."
But it's not just in the idyllic Hawaiian waters that interspecies antics between these two aquatic mammals has been seen. Late last year, off the coast of Southern California, a drone launched by Capt. Dave's Dolphin & Whale Safari captured rare footage of a dolphin pod surfing through the waves with a humpback whale in tow, giving them a boost.
"Dolphins often ride the front of boats like this and catch a free ride," whale-watching guide Capt. Dave Anderson said at the time. "But this 'whale surfing' is only rarely seen and as far as we know has never been filmed with a drone before."
The extent to which dolphins and whales interact, however, isn't only limited to activities that seem rooted in play. In 2011, near the Azores in the North Atlantic, researchers happened upon a truly remarkable display of mammalian solidarity - a group of sperm whales who had apparently welcomed a dolphin with deformities into the pod as one of their own.
"It really looked like they had accepted the dolphin for whatever reason," biologist Alexander Wilson told Science Magazine. "They were being very sociable."
With each case of dolphins and whales interacting, the origins of the behavior can be quite baffling from a strict scientific perspective - but like most great friendships, they need no explanation to be enjoyed.