Yesterday a friend sent me a link to a clip about Bottle-nosed dolphins. It shows their very clever way of herding fish by creating mud circles, then catching the fish as they jump free. It reminded me of a remarkable image I captured of some Dusky Dolphins behaving in a rather similar way. Here is the shot:
We were about to go fishing at French Pass, one of my all time favourite places. We were (as usual) with fishing guide Danny Boulton, the best I have ever been out with (and very green: he really understands how recreational fishers should behave). All thoughts of us catching fish were put on hold, however, when we saw a pod of Dusky Dolphins having dinner. The pod were split into two groups. One group of about 12 were swimming in a large circle, making as much noise as disturbance as possible. They were doing forward rolls, back flips, side splats, belly flops, you name it. But it wasn’t play, it was deadly serious work. They were herding small baitfish into a large ‘meatball’, for the remaining 50 or so dolphins to feed. You can see the presence of the baitfish on the water in front of the two Duskies in that first image, and in this one too:
If you look hard you can see some of the small fish leaping from the water to the left of the dolphin. The dolphins didn’t always move anticlockwise, sometimes there would be two swimming in opposite directions around the same circular arc. Here’s an example (a rather poor photograph):
And another pic to show a side splat being performed.
All the time we were watching this, a group of marine biologists from Texas A&M University were actually underwater, recording the feeding behaviour and social interactions on film. They had been at French Pass for about a week.
Another reminder of that day came last week when an old friend from Auckland visited. He had been with me on that trip and had taken a lot of photographs of the Duskies too. He has a shot almost identical to that remarkable image at the start of this post. We must have each pressed our shutter button within a few hundredths of a second, the positions are so similar. Knowing how difficult dolphins can be to photograph (I got quite a few shots of holes in the water where a dolphin had once been), it was quite a coincidence!
The first image is (luckily) excellent from a photographer’s viewpoint (i.e. very sharp). It is available for purchase on my gallery site, here.