Judith Scott has led thousands of whale watching tours in her 25 years on the job.
The veteran guide was aboard a Láki Tours boat off the coast of Hólmavík, Iceland, on Sept. 14 when the boat’s captain spotted some small, “unusual” splashes, Scott told McClatchy News. It was a humpback whale with a group of white-beaked dolphins.
“I have seen white-beaked dolphins with humpback whales before, swimming around their heads and generally messing with them, at least that is what it looks like,” she said. “The whales often make big blows, called trumpet blows, which we are not sure is a sign of annoyance, but it is certainly some kind of communication.”
This time was different, though. The whale and dolphins appeared to be playing.
“The dolphins were swimming around the whales’ head, but the whale would turn and chase the dolphins, then the dolphins chased it. It really did look like a game between the two,” Scott said.
Scott said the boat stayed near the creatures for over 30 minutes, watching them play.
“We had a wonderful encounter with a small humpback whale playing with a small group of white-beaked dolphins off Holmavik this morning. Photos don’t really do it justice but they were both chasing each other in what looked like such a fun game,” Scott wrote in a Facebook post about her encounter. “So beautiful.”
Hólmavík is in northwestern Iceland, about 145 miles north of Reykjavík.