This Is What It Looks Like When Dolphins 'Stampede'

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Spoiler: It looks awesome.

Once in a while, very -- very -- rarely, dolphins will abandon their standard serenity and go on a romp that we humans refer to, aptly, as a "stampede." The phenomenon, which involves sub-pods joining together into one splashy social -- and which does indeed resemble the crowd dynamics of wild horses -- is an amazing sight: The creatures, choreographed in a synchronized system that would put our own social networks to shame, leap and churn and leap some more in frenzied-yet-graceful unison.

In the video above, a pod of about 1,000 common dolphins -- creatures known for their propensity to charge boats and swim in their wakes -- were captured stampeding off the coast of Dana Point, California, an area that boasts more oceanic dolphins per square mile than anywhere else in the world. The resulting footage -- one of the lucky humans who witnessed the event in person called it "the shot of a lifetime" -- is reminiscent of a similar video that was created last February. One that, just like the video above, depicts a group of our sea-faring friends seeming to defy nature precisely by embracing its quirks.

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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