By Hannah Stevens @Hannahshewans
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Videographer / director: Patrick Dykstra
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: James Thorne
As social creatures, dolphins live in pods and family groups - which usually contain between two and 40 members - but sometimes they will form larger pods with hundreds or even thousands of dolphins.
Wildlife videographer Patrick Dykstra was lucky enough to track down these superpods while sailing in California and then again in Sri Lanka.
He said: “We always let the dolphins come to us, we do not chase them.
“They are curious by nature and if you hang around in the area where they are, some of them will inevitably come and check you out and want to play with the boat and the pressure wave it creates.
“If a group does not show interest or does not want to play, there is no point in trying!”
The size of superpods vary depending on species, habitat and social structure and will often form when there is an abundance of food or for protection against larger animals.
Dykstra added: “The superpod we saw in Sri Lanka was made up of spinner dolphins and likely formed to hunt together and socialise.
“Or perhaps as protection from predators, as killer whales frequent the area where we saw them and large pods tend to provide more protection for the dolphins.”
Superpods are a rare sight, however, and the swarming dolphins do not always stick around to give spectators a full show. Sometimes Patrick was able to track them for a full day, while at others they only kept track of them for a couple of minutes.
The Dubai-based photographer said: “Seeing so many dolphins happily surrounding us playing, jumping and enjoying life was just surreal.
“It makes you really appreciate being alive. It was definitely one of those moments in life that takes your breath away.
“I’ve spent thousands of hours at sea, but I’ve only witnessed a few true superpods, where the ocean literally boils with so many fins, blowholes and tails breaking the surface all around you.
“It’s a life experience that you never forget, that’s for sure!”
Despite being an experienced drone operator, capturing the stunning views required patience and a steady hand.
He said: “Operating the drone from a small, moving boat is a real challenge. If it is windy, as it often is out at sea, the challenge increases.
“However, the scary part is always the landing much more than flying. You are rocking, the boat is moving with the current, the drone is is drifting with the wind, the battery is low - it can be a little precarious!"