Unlikely Friends: Dolphins and Manatee Swim and Play Together

Breaching dolphin. Photo by Roman Tokman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original

An unlikely friendship was caught on camera in Florida recently when a manatee was spotted swimming and playing with a group of dolphins.

The incredible footage was captured by Michael McCarty of the See Through Canoe Company. He knew he spotted something special when he caught a glimpse of the group while boating off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Although dolphins and manatees often share the same waters in Florida, in over 30 years of observations I’ve never seen them give each other more than a passing glance before this,” McCarty wrote. “The odd pod looked like they had been swimming together for a while, it was not a brief encounter. The pod swam in together to the area I was canoeing, and when they left about an hour later they left together.”

Manatees and dolphins are both social, but are generally not seen together like this.

Generally, manatees prefer fresher waters than dolphins.

Image:  Albert Kok

Dolphins in particular are regarded as some of the planet’s most intelligent and spirited animals, and spend a good portion of each day playing. The animals develop strong bonds with one another and commonly care for sick or injured pod members. And, as in this scenario, they’re sometimes spotted interacting with and protecting other species.

Watch the full video below:

Dolphins have even been documented protecting swimmers from sharks, and one was even recorded guiding a pygmy sperm whale and her calf out of shallow water after they had stranded.