Bow-riding dolphins frisky in other ways, too

Jodi Frediani's images reveal that wake surfing is only part of the fun for common dolphins that gather around fast-moving boats

bow-riding dolphins

Bow-riding dolphins get intimate off the bow of the Sea Wolf II; photo by ©Jodi Frediani

Common dolphins love to race alongside fast-moving boats, swim beneath their bows and surf in their wakes.

They just can't seem to get enough.

But apparently, there’s much more to this phenomenon than initially meets the eye: Common dolphins, it turns out, also like to make babies during this fun time.


Photo by ©Jodi Frediani

Jodi Frediani, a photographer based in Monterey, California, recently captured a series of unique images revealing the mammals sharing intimate relations while swimming beneath the Sea Wolf II, as it plowed across Monterey Bay.

A fitting title for her photographs, perhaps, could be “Unsafe sex.”


Photo by ©Jodi Frediani

"What I was wondering is, are they doing this throughout the pod, or just beneath the boat?" Frediani said. "Is there something about the slipstream that makes it easier to mate? Or is it just something about being beneath the boat that gets them excited?"

For those who have not spent much time on the ocean, common dolphins typically swim in large pods and are highly social. When they're not busy feeding, they'll often find the nearest boat and take turns bow-riding and wake-surfing.


Photo by ©Jodi Frediani

At times, a passenger peering beneath the surface, depending on water conditions, might glimpse the white underside of a dolphin's belly, and say, "Oh, look, that one is swimming upside-down."

It's only a fleeting glimpse, however, and most people fail to grasp what’s happening, except in rare cases where conditions are perfect.

bow-riding dolphins

Bow-riding dolphins; photo by ©Jodi Frediani

"It happens so quickly," said Frediani, adding that she was shooting from the upper deck of the Sea Wolf II, and enjoyed a better vantage point than the view afforded to passengers on the lower deck.

Perhaps this phenomenon helps to explain why bow riding seems to come naturally to baby dolphins.

They pick up the pastime almost immediately, and apparently they pick up a great deal more.

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