A “Top 10″ Life Moment: Video of Dolphin “Super-Pod” Stampede

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a lot of far-flung places and I’ve seen my share of amazing things. But this hour-long event captured in the video above was one of the most beautiful, humbling and amazing things I have ever seen in my entire life. I was so dumb struck that I could hardly put the camera in front of my face to capture it…

Last month my crew and I were sailing with Mike Horn off the coast of South Africa. We are working in collaboration with a visionary company called Polyform who are helping Mike and I bring the beauty and wonder of our oceans to as many people as possible.

It was about an hour’s sail south of Capetown, cutting through the water on Mike’s 110-foot sailboat Pangaea, when “it” appeared. At first, on the horizon, we noticed what appeared to be a giant ball of bait fish. The water boiled for literally a mile in every direction…only as it approached at the speed of a swift wave did we see first a nose, then another, then a dorsal fin and then a thousand of them, then more. Only then did we realize we were experiencing the rare “superpod” of dolphins. Not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of them — so thick you could have walked across their backs had they been game for it.

As they approached our boat and quickly surrounded us, our cameras were blazing…every camera, iPhone, point-and-shoot, DSLR, GoPros, every camera imaginable was firing off frames…until we realized that they were with us, and that the moment was actually too rare to shoot photos. After just a few minutes, we all put down our cameras, we stopped talking, and we simply took in the beauty with our eyes. In all of my days as a photographer, there have only been a handful where I’ve been witnessing / pariticpating in an event like this and simply stopped shooting to take it in. This was one of those moments.

In the few minutes we did shoot, we were able to get the footage to make this video above. And while it’s impossible to truly convey the magic of this experience – I hope these clips give you just a little sliver of what it’s like to encounter something so rare and stunning – especially when you least expect it. I think Mike does a good job of trying to communicate this with his little voiceover we cut into the video. Once you see something like this – you are truly marked for life.

The next step. YOUR next step.
After the experience, we spoke with Doreen Gurrola, an instructor of marine sciences at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, who told us these were “common dolphins” or Delphinus delphis. As my crew learned more from her about these dear creatures, my thoughts went…

// …to the mindblowing documentary film, The Cove (Oscar winner for Best Feature Documentary.) If you haven’t seen it, watch it. You’ll love me and hate me for the recommendation.

// …to my friends at 1% For the Planet where I’m an ambassador along with musician, Jack Johnson, and pro surfer, Dan Ross. Please give 1% For The Planet a donation. They are an amazing organization and can use your help. $1, $20, $100. Anything will help them. And then they connected me with…

// Leilani Munter, is also an ambassador for 1% for the Planet. She says, “I am using my voice and my race car to address environmental issues by trying to educate and engage 75 million race fans and hopefully inspire them to rethink their day-to-day habits. I am a big believer in not preaching to the choir.” Amen. Most recently, Leilani has teamed up with the Oceanic Preservation Society and Louie Psihoyos, the director of “The Cove”, on his new film called “The Heist” about species extinction. Bringing the message to the masses is their mission. Their kickstarter project is just thousands away from becoming a funded project. Let’s put them over the edge and give them money here. “We can’t say much about what we are doing, but it will be a big event, something people will definitely remember and will be equally as inspiring as the first film.”

// …which led me back to The Cove website where I found a wonderfully simple directive on what YOU can do take action to preserve, protect, and help these cool creatures and our planet:

5 Things You Can Do Now
1. Sign our petition to help save Japan’s dolphins
2. Help Save Japan Dolphins’ efforts on the front lines
3. Learn more about dolphins in captivity
4. Support the filmmakers with your donation
5. Learn more about what’s happening in Taiji
(Taiji is the location that The Cove uncovered as a slaughtering trap in Japan.)

Thank you for reading all of this. If you’ve been moved by this at all, if you’re not able to donate, then you can still help by sharing this post, this video with your friends. Also, huge thanks to Zoe Keating – check out the gorgeous music accompanying this video get it here on iTunes. Many thanks, much #respect.

chase jarvis dolphin superpod art 1

chase jarvis dolphin superpod 1

dolphin stampede chase jarvis

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Peri says:

I saw this day from my apartment in camps bay. At first we thought it was wind causing all the white horses, but then saw it was actually a huge school of dolphins. Huge!! Even from my apartment it looked amazing.

Coenrad says:

Hi Chase, I to experienced the super pod and can understand the mind numbing experience, how do you tell the story in a single frame; this is my best attempt at capturing the chaos. http://500px.com/photo/15069649

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I was shocked when he mentioned sailing 100,000+ miles and have not ever seen a pod of dolphin that large. As a fisherman I’ve seen larger pods of dolphins than this 2 or 3 times (maybe more) and pods of dolphin this size maybe 10 or more times.

Still the site of this many dolphin in one place is awesome. It’s something that anyone who is on the ocean often should get a chance to see.

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While we are helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves – please remember that Japan has over 400,000 people displaced right now living in temporary housing because of the tsunami. 20,000+ killed just 18 months ago. This is not a nuclear debate or an environmental argument – just a request that you reach out and help some people in need.

Please help out some of those people while you’re working to help the dolphins. They are the one truly lost in the global news cycle about Japan. Not Fukushima – The Tohoku region that has hundreds of miles of decimated cities, towns, and villages. I went there myself and interview survivors last year. We drove for hours seeing nothing but ruined homes.

Herman says:

It took 10 minutes to buffer this clip with my crappy South African internet connection, haha! Very cool to see my hometown on a Chase Jarvis blogpost. The Cape of Good Hope just always looks so damn sexy in photos – from any angle. Here’s a pic I did from Lion’s Head after sunset called ‘Young Blood’ showing the next generation enjoying a warm summer sunset. http://tinyurl.com/cznnzfc

Will Austin says:

Really incredible Chase, thanks also for sharing this with us! And yes, please everyone watch The Cove, an incredible film.

Kim White says:

Thanks so much for sharing your video and raising awarence. If people are interested in learning more about the slaughter and captivity of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, Facebook SEA SHEPHERD COVE GUARDIANS. There are people out there right now monitoring and documenting 24/7 Japan’s horrendous kill of dolphins and whales. The Sea Shepherd is an amazing organization out there on the front lines fighting for life of our oceans.

Thanks Chase!

Gary Rheeder says:

I had the pleasure or should I say honour of witnessing a pod of Common Dolphins such as those in the clip, a couple of hundred strong, off Blouberg (Cape Town) from my 11th story flat window a couple of years back and the experience is etched into my memory forever!

What to say !?! I am vet :)))

Nikki Botha says:

This cause is exceptionally close to my heart. When I heard about what happens in the cove, I became utterly determined to go to Taiji in Japan and fight against the capture and slaughter of these breathtaking animals. Last year, only because of the kindness of friends, family and strangers, I was able to fulfill my goal. I became a Cove Guardian and travelled to the Land of the Rising Sun. I stood on the shores of that infamous cove and witnessed the killing. I heard dolphins scream as they are being tortured and stabbed to death and I heard their tails frantically splashing in the water as they were taking their last breaths. I saw dolphins lose their will to live as their spirits are broken in captivity.

It was the best and worst journey of my life. And in two months, I will be repeating it again. I will return to Taiji and continue the fight for our dolphins.

Gilbert Ho says:

What an amazing experience! We have so much to learn from the dolphins.

That is amazing!!! Seem like there were a thousand Dolphins. Awesome job Chase!!

faisal says:

Not 1000, more like 100 but yes an awesome job

Brett says:

Thousands, faisal. I have seen this.

Chase, thank you for the video. I have been sailing 50 years. I experienced a super pod of dolphins just once. My friend and I were sailing a 44′ Mercer in the Channel Islands off the coast of California several years ago. As I showed your video and read your words to my wife tonight she said “that is exactly how you described it.

My friend had the helm. I couldn’t resist going forward to sit on the bowsprit and cruise along with these magnificent creatures. It was an experience that was spiritual and of biblical proportions. It filled me with awe. The water boiled and churned in every direction as far as the eye could see.

One dolphin in particular swam slightly on its side looking up at me as it glided through the water and my legs dangled off of the bowsprit as I looked down. It was an experience unlike any other. Singularly one of the greatest experiences of my sailing career.

Anonymous says:

how in the hell can you say there were 100 if you weren;t even there.

Saboodemoyen says:

great video loved it, must have been amazing, but just out of interest, what happened to that phantom video that you did with will hyde

Erin Wilson says:

As unpopular as this might sound, I suggest folks look around their local community too. If there is an aquarium that holds large animals like dolphins or whales, research what their conditions are. After you see dolphins swimming free like Chase captured here, it’s heartbreaking to see them kept in tiny tanks with dirty water.

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