Dolphins spend a good portion of each day playing. Agile swimmers, they enjoy leaping out of the water, doing somersaults in the air and catching waves. Surfers have even reported seeing the animals bodysurfing next to them. Dolphins will often seize the opportunity to swim in the bow waves produced by boats.

In September 2008 while their boat was in the Sea of Cortez between Isla Ángel de la Guarda and Bahia de los Angeles, Mexico, some fishermen encountered a pod of dolphins. The animals are known for their “bow riding” and playfulness at spotting boats; but when you run into a large pod of them, their individual glee is collected into what’s known as a “dolphin stampede.”

In fact, Southern California researcher Alisa Schulman-Janiger, who has spent years studying local marine mammals and who has been among pods of up to 10,000 common dolphins, said she has never witnessed them exhibit what resembles a negative reaction to a boat. They either race over to it; or, if they’re feeding, they simply ignore it.

These playful dolphins made a slight miscalculation in coordinating their jumps. ©From the video “Dolphin Collision in Midair,” Javier Azaret

According to the Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast, written by National Marine Fisheries Service scientists, of all of the dolphin species around the world, “Common dolphins are the most renowned and skilled for their delight in bow riding” alongside moving boats. Alisa Schulman-Janiger concurs that the mammals do seem to enjoy the interaction—which they typically initiate—and that they’re amazingly adept at avoiding moving vessels.

Moving vessels? Yes, but other dolphins?

Watch the first video of a dolphin stampede below. And then take a look at the midair collision in the second. These dolphins give the phrase “living ocean” a new meaning!

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,