A dolphin “superpod” is observed passing through California waters this past week, gaining the attention of many who marveled at the sight. What is a superpod, and what are some interesting facts about the short-beaked common dolphin?
A “superpod” of dolphins fascinated many people as hundreds of the energetic creatures were spotted as they raced through California waters in pursuit of bait fish. While it is typical for common dolphins to hunt in pods or groups of about 20 to 30 individual dolphins, the so-called superpod or mega-pod consists of multiple pods that travel together. In this particular instance, hundreds of dolphins were observed hunting together.
The video was taken by Patrick Webster of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and he states that while such occurrences are actually quite common, what’s rare about it is that it was seen by many because it was close to the shore, when superpods often gather far offshore.
Short-Beaked Common Dolphin
Short-beaked common dolphins, as their name suggests, are one of the most common and abundant dolphin species in the world. They look very much like their close relatives, the long-beaked common dolphins, and are often mistaken for them, but they differ very slightly in appearance, size, and habitat preference. In fact, the two species were once thought to be a single dolphin species.
What distinguishes the short-beaked from the long-beaked common dolphins is actually a color pattern referred to as an hourglass. It is called as such because of the color that gives the creature an hourglass-like pattern on its skin.
Short-beaked common dolphins are very energetic and playful creatures that are often seen leaping out of the water and doing somersaults in high speeds. They are quite active at the surface and have been observed to swim alongside ships and large whales for long periods. They have even been observed to swim alongside spinner dolphins and striped dolphins.
They typically rest during the day and feed at night when they can dive up to a thousand feet to feed on schooling fish.
Although they are not considered endangered or threatened, they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Some of the major threats to short-beaked common dolphins is entanglement in fishing gear and hunting, especially in Japan, Russia, and some nations along the Black Sea where the dolphins are hunted for their meat and oil.
As such, conservation groups work to protect the dolphins by reducing interactions between the creatures and commercial and recreational fishing gear, responding to dead, injured, or entangled dolphins, minimizing the effects of human impacts, and minimizing dolphin harassment and illegal feeding.