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Dolphin Play. Photos ©Erika Burkhalter.

Dolphin Play

A day at sea near the Channel Islands

Erika Burkhalter
Oct 15, 2019 · 4 min read

Just off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, the Channel Islands hug the rocky shoreline. Because of the mixing of a southward-bound cold water current, rich with anchovies, and another warm-water current surging up from Baja, Mexico, these waters teem with marine life found delectable by dolphins, Humpback whales, Orcas, and other sea creatures.

On a recent whale-watching excursion, I found myself equally entranced by the antics of the Common Dolphins as by the intermittent breaching of the Humpback Whales.

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Underwater Glide. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

These dolphins delighted in cruising alongside the boat, playing in the wake and gliding underwater right beside us.

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Spray. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

They jump from the depths so quickly that their aerial acrobatics proved difficult to photograph. But, the benefit of photography is that oftentimes I find that I can make out details of the moment which my bare eyes could not discern.

Our guide told us that this pod contained many babies, who stick pretty closely to their mothers’ sides. But, they were hard for me to see with the naked eye. So, I was delighted to find that the camera had been able to capture this photo (below) of a mama and her two babies.

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Mother and Babies. Photo Erika Burkhalter.

Female Common Dolphins reach sexual maturity at about twelve to fifteen years of age. They tend to have just one infant at a time, but can have twins or even triplets. The gestation period lasts from ten to eleven months. At birth, the babies weigh about twenty-two pounds. Adults typically weigh in between two-hundred twenty and three hundred pounds.

I wonder if these two babies (who both seemed to be staying close to each other and to one female) are twins?

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Baby Dolphins. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

They live together in groups of one thousand to many thousands of individuals and are highly sociable. They travel, eat and even surface to breathe together. If an individual is sick, they will keep it afloat so that it can breathe.

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Playtime with the Babies. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

They absolutely love to breach through the wake of the boat, surfing the waves.

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Riding the Wave. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.
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Surfacing. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

This one (below) is doing a back-flip. Can you spot the two others gliding beneath the surface?

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Tummy Time. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.
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Ripples. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

And this curious dolphin seemed to be looking up at me as I was leaning over the edge of the boat to take its photograph.

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Underwater Peek-A-Boo. Photo ©Erika Burkhalter.

All photos were shot with a Nikon D500 and a Nikkor 70–200 1:2:8E lens.

Erika Burkhalter is a yogi, cat-mom, photographer, and lover of travel and nature, spreading her love and amazement for Mother Earth’s glories, one photo, poem or story at a time. (MS Neuropsychology, MA Yoga Studies).

Story and photos ©Erika Burkhalter. All rights reserved.

SNAPSHOTS

An art and photography publication focused on visual…

Erika Burkhalter

Written by

Photographer, yogi, cat-mom, lover of travel and nature, spreading amazement for Mother Earth, one photo, poem or story at a time. (MA Yoga, MS Neuropsychology)

SNAPSHOTS

SNAPSHOTS

An art and photography publication focused on visual narrative in storytelling.

Erika Burkhalter

Written by

Photographer, yogi, cat-mom, lover of travel and nature, spreading amazement for Mother Earth, one photo, poem or story at a time. (MA Yoga, MS Neuropsychology)

SNAPSHOTS

SNAPSHOTS

An art and photography publication focused on visual narrative in storytelling.

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