Riggs was initially using his Phantom quadcopter to search for great white sharks, but he set that mission aside when he spotted the pod of dolphins playing near the city of Esperance. There were "well over 100 in the group," he tells GrindTV, about 30 of which can be seen in the video above.
Bottlenose dolphins are prolific surfers, often outshining their human counterparts on waves around the world. Their antics have been caught on video before, but Riggs' drone footage offers a novel view from overhead, revealing how the mammals line up to catch waves in a style similar to humans.
"Humans aren't the only animal that likes to catch a wave every now and then," explains a post about dolphins' surfing behavior on the Dolphin Communication Project website. "Just like human body surfers, dolphins have been known to ride the crests of big waves as they roll into shore. Just before the wave will crash into shore, the dolphins will turn around and rush back into open water. They can even be seen leaping clear out of the water from the top of a wave."
And unlike choreographed dolphin shows at resorts and aquariums, these dolphins don't have to live in tanks and don't have to perform this trick for food. They just play for the love of the game.
Related dolphin and surfing stories on MNN:
- Hawaii dolphin rescue caught on video
- 2 videos show wild orcas at play with people
- Drone films amazing video of dolphins, whales
- Catch a wave: 11 unforgettable surfing photos