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Catchin’ a Wake

Photo and story from our friends at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel


Why is it that dolphins so often swim and play alongside boats?  Yes, they like to show off for us landlubbers, but a closer look at their unique personalities can better explain their behavior.

Most notably, dolphins are extremely curious and intelligent animals.  When they notice an unfamiliar object moving along the surface of the water, their inquisitive nature likely compels them to determine the cause of the commotion.

Dolphins are also incredibly communicative.  This may help explain the apparent joy they derive from hearing humans clap and cheer for them from onboard.  Offshore tour guides note that these charismatic animals will acknowledge and react to adoring crowds.  From rolling over to leaping from the water, they like to perform for an audience.  

Perhaps the most likely explanation for why dolphins cruise our wakes may simply be to catch a free ride.  Much like a surfer dipping into the barrel of a wave, the strong kinetic energy created by wakes propels the dolphins along, allowing them to swim with far less effort than usual.  Also not unlike humans, they seem to derive a great amount of pleasure from surfing, which may account for their seemingly permanent smile!



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