Thanks to warmer waters brought on by an El Niño event, “un-common visitors” are gracing the waters off the Northern California coast by the thousands, according to a whale watching company.
While common dolphins have been visiting Monterey Bay over the past month, they are typically a rare sight in the area, as they prefer warm waters, Monterey Bay Whale Watch said in a Sept. 4 Facebook post.
“We never know how long these charismatic and playful dolphins will hang around in the bay,” the company said.
The company said it has seen both long-beaked and short-beaked common dolphins but that most sightings have been of the long-beaked variety.
“It is so much fun to see these dolphins as they enjoy interacting with the vessel to ride the pressure waves,” the company wrote in a Sept. 5 Facebook post.
A video posted by the company on Facebook shows the dolphins breaching from the water as they were “out here by the 1000s” on Aug. 28.
The day prior, the company estimated it saw 3,000 common dolphins in the area, according to another Facebook post.
“With El Niño waters still in the bay we’ve been seeing an abundance of long beaked common dolphins,” the company said in an Aug. 29 Facebook post. “They’ve also been very playful: jumping out of the water and showing off.”
What to know about common dolphins
Common dolphins are “found in all tropical and warm-temperate waters,” according to the American Cetacean Society. Long-beaked dolphins are more commonly found in coastal waters, while short-beaked dolphins frequent offshore waters.
They typically swim in “large herds of hundreds or even thousands,” the nonprofit says.
The species can reach anywhere between 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 feet long and can weigh nearly 300 pounds, according to the nonprofit.