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Pod of Dolphins
updated: Jan 30, 2013, 1:00 PM

By Steve McGovern

I was out at Goleta Pier this morning around 9:30 when I saw, just off-shore, what I thought was a pod (?) of dolphins. They were in close, well within the length of the pier. I took pictures every time I saw one come up, hoping to get a good shot of, perhaps, a dolphin breaching, or whatever it's called. Didn't see that. Mostly just a lot of dorsal fins. When I got home, I downloaded the photos, and upon closer examination I am not sure I was looking only at dolphins. A dolphin's dorsal fin has a graceful curve to the back on the forward surface and a graceful curve to the front on the rear surface. The tip can be hooked. Now, I don't know if that is something that develops with age, or if that description fits a dolphin from date of birth. Anyway, when I looked at the pictures, some of them didn't look like that at all.

I'm pretty sure these are dolphins, although one fin is a bit ragged:

It's the next two pictures I wonder about:

There even appears to be some white near the fin of the animal coming toward the camera in the second pictures. Could be just glare. At that time of day the sun would be to the rear of the animal and on the left as we're looking at it.

I might just be imagining things. There did not seem to be any strife. There did appear to be larger and smaller animals which I attributed to juvenile dolphins. Somebody out there in ED world will know.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 PURPLERIDER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 01:24 PM

Pic #1, 2 dolphins and 1 shark?

 

 COMMENT 369062 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 01:38 PM

Porpoises.

 

 COMMENT 369063 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 01:38 PM

Not sure how far away you were, might be Orca's. Size could be bigger than you think from the distance photographed.

 

 COMMENT 369073P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 01:54 PM

#1 looks like a shark in the mix for sure. Note the pointy fin and "edge" to it.

 

 COMMENT 369083 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 02:19 PM

063 looks very Orca ish to me too

 

 COMMENT 369086 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 02:23 PM

Blue whale photographed from FAR away...

kidding. They are all CA dolphins.

 

 COMMENT 369111 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 03:19 PM

Orcas!

 

 COMMENT 369121 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 03:28 PM

This is our local 'family' of Bottlenose dolphins. They cruise our coast from South Bay to Vandenburg. Scott Price has been filming them surfing our local waves for 20 years.

 

 COMMENT 369134 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 03:48 PM

Contrary to popular belief sharks rarely expose their dorsal fin above the water surface. Sharks have gills and do not need to surface like marine mammals to breath.

 

 SMAC6590 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 03:57 PM

OP. Yeah, I know about the local dolphins, and I figured that was what it was, but it appears most are as puzzled as I was about whether I was seeing a small orca in the midst. Don't see a shark, though. Their fins are totally different.

 

 COMMENT 369165P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 04:34 PM

sharks and dolphins are not friendly, they don't hang near each other. if a shark had its dorsal that high out of the water you'd also be able to see the tip of its tail which is oriented the opposite of a dolphins. the vertical tail orientation of a shark causes it to move very differently in the water than a dolphin, if it was that near the surface you'd see it continue to swim in a non-linear manner whereas the dolphins disappear and reappear in a rolling fashion. that is indeed a pod of dolphins.

 

 COMMENT 369171P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 04:41 PM

121: Closer to 35 years. I bought a print of 7 Surfing Dolphins from Scott's mom when she had a booth selling her porcelain ceramics in Picadilly Square on State in the early 80's while I was working at the Science Discovery Center next door. She told me Scott was already a professional photographer, but wasn't looking for dolphins to photograph the day he was at the beach and saw these surfers.

 

 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 06:07 PM

The last pic looks like an Orca to me - straighter dorsal fin than dolphins (and I am definitely not an expert

 

 COMMENT 369214P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 06:12 PM

A Hollywood agent swimming close to a gifted actor or actress.

 

 COMMENT 369225 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 06:48 PM

Photoshop....

 

 COMMENT 369258P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-30 10:31 PM

I enjoy reading your posts! Keep them coming. It's fun to try to figure out these mysteries.

 

 COMMENT 369304P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 07:29 AM

Whale sighted near to beach, about 500 yards out, off City College. So.....

 

 COMMENT 369308 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 07:35 AM

They are dolphins, Orcas aren't found that close to the coast over here. I use to Kayak right over there, straight across from CC, always a few dolphins around

 

 COMMENT 369322 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 07:56 AM

Picture #2 looks more like an Orca. The body width, coloring and fin looks like an approaching Orca.

 

 COMMENT 369340 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 08:23 AM

Regardless of what they may "look like" if you try hard enough, they're dolphins.

 

 COMMENT 369344 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 08:27 AM

Orca's were recently spotted and captured on video off the Condor Express. There is a pod in our channel and has been for a few weeks. There's a good color video of it out there somewhere, but here's a B&W version. See YouTube and "Orca Pod seen from the Condor Express - 12-23-12" for B&W video.

 

 COMMENT 369348P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 08:32 AM

My sailor sez that there are some BIG dolphins out there, and that orcas have higher fins than in these pics.

 

 COMMENT 369384 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 10:21 AM

These appear to be dolphins. Dolphins can have various shapes for their dorsal fins. For example, "S longirostris" can have a dorsal fin that is straight up or even leaning forward. These appear to be Bottlenose dolphins, though without seeing more of the body, cannot be sure. Dorsal fins can be ragged for a number of reasons, accidents, rough play, etc. Also the variation in color is common. The variability/uniqueness in fins (including dorsal) is used by researchers to identify individuals in a pod.

Finally, Orcas would most likely not be swimming amongst dolphins, as smaller dolphins can be prey to Orcas. I have seen such an attack in the South Pacific.

 

 COMMENT 369391 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-01-31 10:42 AM

The very curved (falcate) dorsal fin is typical of Dall's porpoise.

 

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