This super pod of pantropical spotted dolphins (熱帶點斑原海豚) showed off their acrobatic swimming and played with our boat when we went out with the Jin Ling whale and dolphin watching company in Chenggong Harbor (晉領 賞鯨 台東成功 ) on a rainy morning on June 28, 2023. The captain expertly navigated the turbulent waters to find this awesome super pod. It was the closest I’d ever gotten to dolphins in my life (I looooove dolphins).
Pantropical spotted dolphins are threatened in East Asia (including Taiwan) by over-fishing, especially as by-catch during net fishing for tuna. They often swim with tuna since they eat the same diet of small pelagic fish. Fishing boats follow pods to catch tuna, and they end up killed in the nets as by-catch. From the 1960s to 1980s about 75% of the pantropical spotted dolphin population was killed in the Eastern Pacific due to these practices. Enforcing “dolphin-safe” fishing practices in other parts of the world have helped these dolphins recover their populations. It is unclear how well these practices have been enforced in Taiwan since these dolphin populations have not yet recovered.
Encountering this super pod was truly wonderful: to witness so many dolphins come check out our boat, playing, jumping, racing our boat, showing off their acrobatic swimming skills was a magical moment and testament to the resilience of life on Earth.