SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A group of boaters had an up close and personal encounter with one or more dolphins inside San Francisco Bay Friday, which was captured on video.
In a video posted on YouTube, the bottlenose dolphin swims next to their racing sailboat and repeatedly breaches the surface of the water.
Julia Smith, who shot the video, said while it appeared to be just one dolphin, she wasn’t sure if it was more than one. “We were so excited and shocked, as none of us had ever seen a dolphin in the Bay.”
Smith was joined by her crew mates Debbie Fehr and Marianne Armand. Smith said the dolphin swam alongside them for 7-10 minutes actively jumping the whole time. “We were racing and they just showed up,” she said.
The women are heard on video squealing with glee as the dolphin frolicked next to them. “He’d disappear for 10 or 20 seconds and we’d think we’re done … and then he would pop back up … and <scream> we’d squeal some more!”
“She was the squealer, I was the laugher,” said Fehr. “It was just exciting and unexpected and surprising. And he was jumping so high and turning over and doing all these acrobats … it was awesome!”
Biologist Bill Keener with Golden Gate Cetacean Research said while bottlenose dolphin sightings in San Francisco Bay are not exactly rare, they are much more common in Southern California.
“They first came to Northern California when the warm water of a big El Niño drew them here, and they stayed around, especially in Monterey Bay,” said Keener. “We first noticed them in San Francisco Bay in 2001 and they started to come in more regularly in 2007.
Keener estimates there are about 100 bottlenose dolphins living in Northern California waters, with about 600 total along the entire California coast.
“While having a bottlenose dolphin approach a boat and playfully leap alongside is not rare by itself, Julia’s video is the first I know of that shows it happening in SF Bay,” said Keener.