Dolphins and the Bow Wave Dance
Dolphins fascinate us with their grace, intelligence and playful behaviour. One sight that we and our guests love seeing is the phenomenon of dolphins surfing on bow waves created by our Mandurah Cruises’ boats, especially as we traverse the Peel Inlet. Here, dolphins often seem to join with the boat to bow surf once they hear us. But why do the dolphins do this?
We know this isn’t a modern phenomenon! According to scientists from the University of Cambridge, dolphins were documented by the ancient Greeks riding their boats’ bow waves.
Some experts believe that riding a wave gives dolphins a ‘power boost,’ as the water’s force helps propel them forward, to get to fresh hunting or socialising grounds with limited effort. In the Mediterranean Sea, one study utilising underwater cameras found that dolphins were more successful in catching fish when swimming near boats. The shadow and noise cast by the boat could help drive fish in a direction, making them easier prey for the dolphins. So perhaps when they come off the bow wave, they find fish more easily.
We certainly know that our Mandurah dolphins have really adapted to hunt in our environment, and they will use all the techniques at their disposal to catch as much food as they can, especially in winter when the water is colder and so more energy is needed for thermo regulation.
We think that Mandurah’s dolphins may just find joy in the act of surfing on bow waves. “Sometimes you can hear them communicating when they’re bow surfing, and we see jostling to get onto the wave when there are groups of dolphins – like humans on a crowded break!”, says Mandurah Cruises’ owner Myrianthe Riddy.
Dolphins spend about 8 hours a day socialising and are highly intelligent mammals who seem to enjoy playing in the waves, just like us. We often see amazing leaps in the air, which to us looks like pure playfulness!
Whatever the reason, we are so privileged to witness our wonderful West Australian marine world, and we love to share these moments with our community and visitors on our dolphin cruise.