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Thousands of dolphins spotted off San Diego [Video]

February 18, 2013 |  7:13 am

Thousands of dolphins were spotted off the coast of San Diego by passengers aboard a tour boat, which then followed the "super mega-pod" for more than an hour.

Capt. Joe Dutra of Hornblower Cruises told NBC 7 in San Diego that the pod was more than seven miles long and five miles wide.

“When you see something that is honestly truly beyond belief,” he told the TV station.

Guests aboard the boat started screaming and pointing Thursday when they first saw the school of adult and juvenile common dolphins. Dutra estimated there were about 100,000 dolphins swimming in the area.

“They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here … but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever.”

The San Diego event is reminiscent of a dolphin stampede caught on video in January off Dana Point.

There, a pod of about 1,000 common dolphins began a stampede, churning across the blue-gray waters off Dana Point at a rapid pace.

Dave Anderson, the captain of Capt. Dave's Dolphin and Whale Safari, said that in the decades he has spent on the water and out among Southern California's dense dolphin population, it's a phenomenon he's encountered only rarely.

"It's one of those things you can hope for it, but you can't plan for it," he said. "It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of beautiful and interesting things" on the water.

He said the sensation was like being in the midst of a herd of wild horses. The dash began in an instant, he said. At some points the dolphins reached speeds of more than 25 mph, outpacing his boat.


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-- From a Times staff writer