On August 6, fisherman Mark Peters set out to hook some albacore tuna off Santa Cruz, California. While he was at it he set up an underwater camera behind his boat. When he checked out the footage he found some unexpected visitors—a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins—swimming along behind. The middle of this four-minute montage of his trip gives us an uninterrupted minute of some of the most captivating footage you’ll ever see. You have to sit through a couple of minutes of non-dolphin buildup, but these graceful beauties are worth the wait.
Dolphins factor prominently in the lore of coastal Indigenous Peoples. According to the site Native Languages, coastal cultures worldwide have tales about dolphins and porpoises (they’re different) helping people swim ashore or protecting them from sharks.
“In some California Indian legends, dolphins are said to have been transformed from humans, and serve as special protectors of the tribe,” the site says.
The Chumash honor them with special dances, Native Languages says. “Fear and awe” are accorded to Amazon River dolphins (pink or boto dolphins), says Native Languages. Indigenous Peoples up and down the Amazon “believe the dolphins to be powerful shape-shifting sorcerers that may seduce women or drive men insane.”
The dolphins do seem to be talking in this video, though their little squeaky sounds can barely be heard above the Pearl Jam soundtrack as the mammals undulate just behind the boat, some of them staring intently into the camera. Thus we’ll never know what they are trying to tell us. See the full video here.