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Common dolphins are so much fun, they should be called extraordinary dolphins!
They are the most abundant flippered friends that we encounter off Laguna Beach with over 400,000 dolphins found off the Southern California coastline. We often see them in large groups and a typical pod will number around 200 individuals, though sometimes we see them by the thousands!
Common dolphins average between 6-9 feet long and weigh between 200-300 pounds. They feed on small schooling fish like sardines and anchovies, as well as squid. There are two species of common dolphins: the long-beaked common dolphin and short-beaked common dolphin. They appear alike in many ways, but they differ slightly in size, coloration, and some characteristics. Both types of common dolphins have intricate coloration patterns and range from white/yellow to gray/black.
The coast of Laguna Beach has three Marine Protected Areas, or conservation areas, which limit fishing and human activity to protect critical natural and cultural resources. MPAs are important because they protect the habitat of thousands of ocean species and offer opportunities for people to experience and study marine life that is undisturbed and truly wild. MPAs allow common dolphins to thrive by providing a clean, healthy habitat with abundant food.
While occasionally spotted from shore, common dolphins are sighted almost every day of the year on-board Newport Landing and Davey’s Locker Whale Watching vessels out of Newport Beach. Common dolphins are extremely friendly and social and will frequently come right over to the boat to bow ride and surf in the boat wake. They are hugely acrobatic and sometimes will suddenly launch out of the water in a spectacular leap, landing with a big splash. Seeing dolphins in their natural habitat is a thrilling and unforgettable experience!
Common dolphins can be seen year-round and with no specific breeding season, there is always the chance to glimpse an adorable baby dolphin! Throughout the year we have the chance to see larger marine mammals off our shores as well.
Winter and spring provide the best chances to catch gray whales on their migration, and throughout the summer and fall we have the opportunity to view charismatic humpback whales, giant blue whales, magnificent fin whales, two other species of dolphins, sea lions, and more incredible ocean life!
Sponsored by Newport Whales, visit newportwhales.com to book whale watching tickets and for more information about ocean life and conservation in Southern California.