Dolphins befriend an underwater camera

So a bunch of guys go fishing, and they take a long an underwater camera, encased in a mobile, waterproof housing. Basically, their camera can move around underwater, like a little RC car.

Then this happens ...

I have a sneaky suspicion that this video might be an advertisement for camera equipment. But whatever. It's beautiful. You win this time, viral marketers.

Watch the movie on Vimeo

Via Robert Krulwich and Ed Yong.


  1. I think the camera is just being towed behind the boat, and the dolphins are following the boat, not specifically the camera. They don’t even seem that interested in the camera itself, they’d be poking it with their noses if they wanted to investigate it.

        1. Nothing in Krulwich’s article makes it sound like it’s remotely controlled at all, it just says it “streak[s] through the water just below the surface… [an] underwater moving camera”.
          From the look of the video they throw it in just behind the prop, then reel it out so it’s past the disturbed water.

          1.  it’s just a thin underwater missile that can streak through the water just below the surface and record video — a kind of underwater moving camera

            The way I interpret this is that the missile is moving on its own, independent of the boat. 

          1. Why is everyone getting so antsy about the term “remote control”?   If it’s being towed on a string of fishing line, then it’s being controlled remotely – by the reel on deck.  All of the old remote controls worked this way, until the recent use of radio waves.  Just sayin’.

    1. … or about how light and texture work underwater and how aquatic animals have evolved. The smoothness, simplicity and uniform background do make it seem really computer generated. Beautiful but weird in that, had I seen it in a movie, my enjoyment would have been impaired by the assumption that it HAD been computer generated and wasn’t a real moment at all.

  2. Dolphins and tuna following a fishing boat? What could possibly attract them?

    Nice video though. Even if I’m still sceptical about all these ‘amateur’ GoPro videos appearing in the last time.

    1. I dunno, the gopro is the defacto sport camera now. I do car racing and every team has gopros in their cars. They have sold a huge quantity of them so it’s not unlikely that there’s interesting stuff being caught on them all the time.

    1.  It does – there is an “overcrispness” and an animatronic jumpiness to the motion, and a uniformity.  It could be real footage, but it has a strange quality which made me think it’s animated.  But what do I know, maybe it’s just the camera’s frame rate.

      1. It’s the framerate. The complaints you’ve detailed echo those of many other people who view high-framerate video.

    2. They look too alike?  Many of them have different scratches and scars.  Around 2:30 you can clearly see a scar on the right flank of one of the dolphin in the upper right corner of the frame, for example.

      And I think the overcrispness and jumpiness is just a function of the way the GoPro captures video.  If you look at any number of biking or skiing GoPro videos, many of them have a similar “feel.”

    3. There’s also the way the dolphins don’t visibly disturb the bubbles, nor cause any of their own bubbles or ripples, even when near the surface.

      Then there’s their somewhat stiff movements: I’m used to videos of them being more fluid, where their whole body drives them, rather than merely their tails – when they swim, their body *flows* through the water: it’s not that they’re driven by their tail wiggling.

      Also the viewing distance seems rather far, but that might just be that I’m used to murkier coastal water.

      Then there’s the viral-marketing aspect: mentions of the specific camera, and the timing of the video “beats” also seems a bit too close to perfect: ~1:45 immersion ~3:30 end; then 30 secs of credits for ~4:00. is the closest legitimate-looking one I could find. It *is* similar, and their movements are less fluid than you typically see when they’re playing: makes sense, it’s a different gait.

      I guess time will tell.

      [Edit: either way it’s impressive: but I think as a rendering it’s even more impressive than if it’s live. Less impressive for the camera manufacturers, of course, so I strongly suspect it’s live but set up, rather than rendered, just because the camera manufacturers care about their rep :)]

    1.  Yes, indeed.  I could have done without the tuna bashing all together.  Also notice the size of those tuna:  pretty small.  Might that be because we’ve so badly over-fished them there are few full-sized ones left?

  3. I like the way that guy made a half-assed attempt to bludgeon that tuna on the head then just left it flapping about on the deck when his interest got caught by something else!

    1. That’s what caught my attention. I don’t have a problem with hunting, but I do have a problem with animals suffering any longer than necessary.

    2. Yeah, that also made me think that this wasn’t likely some viral marketing trick. “I know, let’s advertise our cameras with some animal cruelty!”

  4. This video comes up green and purple and spastic glitchy for me, like The Joker v. Max Headroom.  I swear I’m sober.

  5. So some guys are out killing sea life, and are awed by some sea life.

    Like this time I was hunting cats, and then this cat started being cute!  It was awesome.  Wish I had a video.

    1. but dolphins aren’t fish.. so it would be more like hunting dogs and then a cat started being cute. You know, kind of like how we’re okay eating some of the ugly animals, but not most of the cute ones…

      1. Well I’m cool with not eating any of them, personally.  But I’m pretty sure most of the animals eaten are cows, pigs and sheep.  Animals that I happen to find incredibly cute, friendly and engaging.  Pigs are also super smart.  What was your point again?

        1. I actually feel the same way. I was speaking for others. but, yeah, “dolphins aren’t fish” I guess is the best I’ve got…

          1. no apologies.. I didn’t mean it as “dolphins aren’t fish, that’s why we don’t eat them”, I just meant, well, dolphins aren’t fish.

            I was also trying to point out that the same contradiction, at least in terms of consumption, exists for those fellow creatures who exist on land. For example, why would we think it is strange or wrong to eat a dog but not a cow…?

    2. Actually came here to say “Fishing for Tuna!?”   And with the twangy folk guitar…

      Really?  In this day and age?

      1.  Well, the “twangy folk guitar” is Eddie Vedder from the “Into the Wild” soundtrack, so not exactly backwoods hillbilly music. And some people do find their food outside of the supermarket still. Crazy, I know!

    3. It does suck that nature is amoral (and that ecosystems have therefore emerged without any consideration to minimising cruelty). There is certainly scope to impose some human morality upon it for our own peace of mind (the same way, and for the same reasons that we impose some of our other preferences on nature), but I am not sure that a central focus on “life” and “killing” is either feasible or desirable.

        1.  What the hell…? There are plenty of studies on animals with decent reasoning capacity that show the ability for empathy, kindness, sharing, stealing, cheating, lying and other behaviors that show that many kinds of animals have an awareness of moral and immoral behavior. Or maybe I’m just not sure what you mean by ‘nature.’

          1. Should have read ‘may be’ rather than ‘is’, but your point still stands.
            I was kinda focussing on the second bit though, the first bit was more of a conversational tactic to avoid getting into a debate about non-humans and their respective morality – which I imagine is a bit of a muddy area, even with qualities such as kindness and empathy – I dunno – maybe morality isn’t even the point, it’s probably more about awareness, foresight, knowing better.

      1. Oh totally. Stuff eats other stuff. But then dolphins aren’t marvelling at how amazing lobsters are.

        All life is awesome and fascinating, and fortunately we’ve evolved to the point where we’re able to truly appreciate it. Just seems odd to be beating a comparible animal to death while marvelling at another.

        1. I don’t know what dolphins are marveling at. They’re pretty incredible creatures, after all, and they probably have very sentient thoughts. =) When you get down to it, they also probably have very deep ethics as well.

          So I’m not too worried. =)

          1. When they start keeping crabs as pets and being picky about how responsibly sourced their dinner is, I’ll believe that :)

            They’re bloody smart animals, but even apes have pretty questionable morals. Even people have questionable morals; see this video as an example.

          2. @NathanHornby:disqus I understand where you’re coming from, I understand being a vegetarian and I respect it very much. I just don’t personally find anything immoral with eating fish. =)

          3. Bottom-trawling, habitat destruction, overfishing, by-catch … There’s plenty of immorality happening in the ocean, we just don’t have to see it so we can pretend it’s not there.

          4. @boingboing-09a69de15cf89bc7fe8c0642f906a4dd:disqus @NathanHornby:disqus I’m sorry, I really am just not buying it. I mean, when did appreciation for dolphins in the wild, most likely doing exactly what the humans were doing who were filming them, suddenly have to turn into a discussion of all morality and ethics of the entire ocean and all of humanity?

            That’s really something that boggles my mind. Do you look at a painting by a renaissance painter and start ranting about how it was the oppression of the common people which got the gold to pay the painter to depict beauty? Seriously…if that’s the way you view everything, then everything is corrupted, nothing can be appreciated just even for a single moment, and there’s no discussion left anymore, is there? I mean, when I start hearing Silent Night, I don’t start ranting about all the Jews and Muslims who were killed by Crusaders during the Crusades.

            Yes, those people were fishing. So what? It’s done every day since the dawn of humanity to get food. Life’s cruel that way. I can, for a moment, forget about that and appreciate the non-destructive parts of life as well, just as I can look at a star and *not* have to think for a moment about the impending possible civilizations it may one day wipe out when it goes nova.

            It’s a question of perspective. I enjoyed the video, the dolphins were gorgeous and lovely, and possibly enjoying the hunt as well. It’s nature. We’re part of it.

            Edit: Sorry for the rant. =) But cmon…this is just silly….

          5. Dolphins are carnivores, they don’t have any other choice but to eat other fish.  We do have a choice, being omnivores.  There is no irony here.

            And while there’s nothing immoral in eating anything if/when it’s necessary, it becomes a valid moral question whether we should kill any other living thing when we evolve in skill and infrastructure to a point where we don’t have to. 

            Also, to put to rest the sophomoric “We’re a part of nature” argument, the emphasis is not on nature but on the WE are part of nature.  Meaning our own skills, knowledge, and abilities within nature need to be taken into consideration.  There is no default value system to the world.  Therefore each creature will have its own within it.  Saying “We are part of nature” does not let anyone off the hook; it’s proof that we own the hook, line and sinker.  C’mon, Summer Seale, this isn’t hard.

    1. From the linked article: “Jeremy Kangas, the powerboat’s captain and owner, said dolphins often follow tuna in the clear blue water. They often use satellite images to find areas of offshore water with low turbidity because that’s where they fish for tuna.”So apparently the dolphins are pretty smart, using satellites and all…

  6. “Befriended a camera” is actually more like “Followed a boat hoping fisherman would drop wounded tuna back into the water.” And given Dr. Hammer’s skill at bludgeoning fish, it’s actually quite good odds for the dolphins.

  7. NBC is reporting that the Curiosity rover is suing the dolphin video for copyright infringement.


    Curiosity rover is unimpressed.

  8. Um. It’s not CG. Given the physics and textures, the time it would take to render that footage out of a computer would make it pointless. Too much work for no real gain. The footage is just good because the rig keeps the shot straight, as well as the length of the line it’s on. I think we’ve just been trained to cry foul when something looks nice.

    1. If by “friends” you mean “meals” then yes…they want them to stop beating them in the head, and drop them back out of the boat. Dang humans taking all of the good “friends” and cooking them…much better raw.

  9. As a CG animator myself, I am really skeptical that these are not CG. It looks like a very quick compositing job. Still, obviously, the video works for what it is trying to do. Grabbing your attention.

  10. For everyone anxious about the poor tuna, I’d like to point out that Saint Cobain himself said, “Its okay to eat fish ’cause they don’t have any feeeellinggssss.”

  11. “It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much- the wheel, New York, wars and so on- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man- for precisely the same reasons.

    Curiously enough, the dolphins had long known of the impending destruction of the planet Earth and had made many attempts to alert mankind to the danger; but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for tidbits, so they eventually gave up and left the Earth by their own means shortly before the Vogons arrived.

    The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double-backward somersault through a hoop while whistling the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but in fact the message was this:

    So long and thanks for all the fish.

    Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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