On Wednesday aboard a Newport Coastal Adventure whale watching tour, an excited bottlenose dolphin jumped at least 20 feet in the air right next to the boat.
“This epic sighting of at least 60 offshore bottlenose dolphins included this excited individual who rocketed out of the water for fun, delighting our whale watching passengers onboard,” Newport Landing Whale Watching Marine Education Program Manager Jessica Roame wrote in an email on Wednesday.
The pod also included a rare and exciting view of “Patches,” a well-known leucistic bottlenose dolphin that frequents Orange County, Roame added.
His sighting is significant in Orange County because he is a very recognizable bottlenose dolphin with pink colored “patches” all over his body, she explained. These pink “patches” are caused by a genetic abnormality called leucism, which gives it an unmistakable color pattern.
Roame explained that he (they guess Patches is male because he has never been seen with a calf) usually travels with a large group of conspecifics and has been reported all over the Southern California Bight, from the Mexican Border to the Santa Barbara Channel. The skin underneath appears pink because of the blood vessels of the animal showing through their non-pigmented skin.
These marine mammals can be between 6–12 feet long and weigh close to 1,400 pounds when their fully grown, she added, “so it was a thrilling sight for all our passengers to witness.”
“Bottlenose dolphin are among the most intelligent animals in the ocean, and to witness them behaving in this way is both wondrous and incredible,” Roame wrote.
For more information about Newport Landing Whale Watching, call (949) 675-0551 or visit newportwhales.com.