Pro fishermen at a recent Cape May, New Jersey fishing tournament found themselves upstaged by several pods of large dolphins known as pilot whales.
According to Bob Schoelkopf of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, pilot whales are quite accustomed to anglers in the area and are relatively comfortable with boats. The animals were apparently chasing after blue and white marlin, as well as some bigeye tuna.
“They’re pretty good about avoiding boats,” Shoelkopf told the Asbury Park Press. “Food comes first.”
While they avoid boats, the dolphins actually seek anglers. Some may think the fishermen simply ended up in the path of the dolphins, but apparently the anglers lured the dolphins in.
It seems they’ve become aware that large “pods” of human anglers are a good indicator of the kind of fish they like to eat. The humans were gunning for a $2.8 million purse, and 139 boats were in the game. That’s a jump from last year’s 127 boats seeking a $2.4 million purse.
“Pre-tournament registration has been brisk as crews are anxious to secure their spot in a field that annually hosts the best in big game tournament fishing who travel from up and down the Atlantic coast from as far away as New England and Florida and all ports in between to be part of this special event,” stated tournament organizers in a press release.
The pilot whales, however, just wanted an easy lunch. Maybe they have it better figured out than the humans in this instance.
Race organizers did not alert the competitors to the approaching pod, as they consider wild sea life to be just another obstacle on the playing field.