Dolphins Crash California Surfing Competition: The Latest In A String Of Odd Behavior That Included Recreational Drug Use

By Ben Wolford on January 23, 2014 2:25 PM EST

Dolphins Surfing
Dolphins crashed a surfing competition in California on Sunday, riding under the waves ahead of the surfers. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)

We've been learning an awful lot about dolphins lately. First they got high on a pufferfish, then they swarmed the coast of Costa Rica by the thousands. On Sunday they revealed another pastime to cameras: dolphins like to surf.

Several dolphins crashed the final round of the women's event at the Rincon Classic 2014, basically hamming it for the spectators and stealing the show. No mention of the dolphins appeared in the competition results. According to one of organizers of the event, who spoke with the New York Daily News, the pod's performance lasted about 45 seconds and bowled over the thousands of people who turned out to watch humans surf. They were predectably delighted by the program adjustment.

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In the video, the dolphins glide just under the water, a few feet ahead of a surfer and the crashing waves. At one point, the surfer seems to be so distracted/perplexed/overjoyed watching two dolphins lead her that she just stands there and gets walloped by the wave.

This is the third time in two months that dolphins have surprised us. The first two times came as a BBC documentary film crew spied on them for the upcoming show Dolphins: Spy in the Pod in which a remote-controlled camera disguised as a tuna peeped in on their most private moments. At the end of December, news came out of a megapod phenomenon near Costa Rica. That's when thousands — and sometimes even hundreds of thousands — of dolphins get together in a kind of marine mammal conference to feast on small fish and to mate. These happen from time to time in Southern California.

Earlier that month, the dolphins dropped a bombshell when Spy Tuna caught a circle of adolescent dolphins gnawing on a pufferfish and passing it around. Pufferfish, as we soon learned, have a toxic quality, which, in small doses, can created a numbing kind of high. (In high doses, it's lethal.) To the zoologists on the film crew it was clear the teenagers were up to no good. "This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating," Rob Pilley, a zoologist and producer of the show, said. "After chewing the puffer gently and passing it around, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection."

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