Why Do Dolphins Swim with Boats?

You might see dolphins swimming alongside a boat in a movie or documentary. So, what is the reason?

Dolphins are social animals, and they love to interact with humans. The sound of the boat, which attracts them, is the main factor here. Out of curiosity, dolphins often come close to boats and swim with them—a truly remarkable sight many enjoy at sea.

In this article, I will give you more details regarding this beautiful moment.

Why Do Dolphins Swim with Boats?

Dolphins swim by boat due to several reasons. Here are all the reasons discussed below.

Playful Behavior

Dolphins’ playful temperament is one of the main reasons they swim with boats and vessels. Dolphins are friendly animals who enjoy interacting with their surroundings, and boats can provide them with a fun and exciting platform to do so.

dolphin palying

Dolphins are also known to swim alongside boats, ride on their bow waves, and do aerial acrobatics such as jumps, spins, and flips. They may also follow vessels for extended periods of time, particularly if the vessel is going slowly. In general, dolphins swim with boats because it provides them with a new and fascinating environment in which to play.


Dolphins are naturally inquisitive creatures, and boats can greatly interest them. Boats have a distinct sound and vibration in the water that dolphins find intriguing.

When these curious animals hear or see something unfamiliar, they often approach it for further exploration. With their keen sense of hearing and sight, dolphins may come near boats simply out of curiosity about the stimulation provided by boat motors or passengers on board.


Dolphins are resourceful predators that hunt for a variety of fish and squid, often exploiting the benefits brought by boats. Most boats make wakes that can attract small fish and squid, which in turn can attract dolphins who are hungry and want to eat.

Also, these smart animals have learned to follow fishing boats in the hopes of scavenging any leftover or netted food.

Social Behavior

Dolphins exhibit strong social inclinations and generally stay in organized groups called pods. They could be drawn to the movement and sound of boats, which is akin to the sociability within their pod community.

These incredible creatures may even follow boats to connect with other dolphins or form new relationships with people.


Dolphins may use boats as a form of protection against larger sharks and other predators. Boats can stir up enough commotion in the water to serve as an effective barrier for dolphins, allowing them to relax without fear of attack – many times, you will find them swimming close by vessels for this very reason.

Attraction to the Sound of Boat Engines

Dolphins possess incredibly acute hearing and are sensitive to a wide array of sounds. Boat motors may be seen as a type of communication or social signal, calling out to these sea creatures just like the crashing waves in their natural habitats do. Dolphins may even approach boats simply because the sound, without any other purpose, draws them.

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Attraction to the Waves in the Water


Boats create waves in the water as they move, and dolphins may be attracted to these waves for a variety of reasons. For example, dolphins may use the waves created by boats to aid in their swimming by using the energy from the waves to help them move more quickly through the water.

Dolphins may also be drawn to the waves because they are fun to play with or because they give them a chance to do natural things like breaching or tail slapping.

Additionally, the waves may create a visual and sensory stimulus appealing to dolphins, similar to how humans are drawn to the sight and sound of crashing waves at the beach.

Do Dolphins Like Humans in Boats?

In most cases, dolphins like interacting with humans in a boat. They show different types of jumping, flipping, and swimming around the boat, indicating that they enjoy the interaction.

However, their reactions to our presence often depend on the environment and their individual experience with people.

Some studies have shown that dolphins and people in boats can get along well. For example, dolphins have been seen swimming next to boats and even playing with their hulls. However, other studies show that boat traffic can change the way dolphins act.

For example, they may show signs of stress, like coming up more often and diving quickly when they hear too much boat noise.

Also, when boat propellers make wakes or big waves, dolphins may become disoriented and confused. These responses aren’t always due to fear of boats or humans. They just require more energy to navigate the turbulent waters caused by boats.

Why Do Dolphins Swim with Humans?

People have known for a long time that dolphins and humans can swim together in the wild. Therefore, why do these aquatic creatures join us for a swim? Here are some potential reasons behind this behavior:


Dolphins are known for having fun-loving personalities, which they often show when they are around people. They may spin around divers, ape whatever action the person is doing, or even bring objects such as seaweed or shells towards them – all seen as playful gestures.

Social Interaction

Dolphins are often curious about what people are doing, so they come close to investigate and maybe even make friends. These creatures are very friendly and may want to get to know us if they get the chance.

Seeking Safety


Under certain conditions, dolphins can actively seek out humans for shelter and safety, such as when they’re threatened by a predator or suffering from illness or injury. Dolphins are smart enough to understand that we may be able to help them in these moments of distress.

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Attraction to Sounds

Like with boats, dolphins may be attracted to the sounds humans make in the water. For example, they may be drawn to the sounds of people talking, splashing, or singing.

Food Source

In some cases, dolphins may swim with humans because they associate them with a potential food source. This is more likely to occur in areas where dolphins have become habituated to human activities, such as in areas with high levels of dolphin-watching tourism.

Why Do Dolphins Swim in Front of Submarines?

While the precise motivations behind dolphins swimming in front of submarines remain mysterious, there are various suppositions as to why this behavior occurs. However, curiosity and mistakes in identity are the main reason.


Dolphins are known for their curious and playful nature, and they may swim in front of submarines out of a sense of curiosity. The unusual shape and movement of submarines may intrigue dolphins and prompt them to investigate further.

Mistaken Identity

Some researchers believe that dolphins may mistake submarines for large fish or other dolphins. Dolphins have been known to swim in front of larger fish or animals to test their social status or establish dominance. It’s possible that dolphins see submarines as potential competitors or threats and may approach them in the same way they would approach other animals.

Sensing Pressure Waves

Another theory is that dolphins may be attracted to the pressure waves created by submarines as they move through the water. Dolphins have highly sensitive hearing and can detect pressure waves and vibrations in the water. It’s possible that they may be drawn to the pressure waves created by submarines, which can be quite strong.


It’s also possible that dolphins may use submarines as navigational tools. Dolphins use sound to navigate and communicate with one another, and the sounds produced by submarines may help guide dolphins as they move through the water.

How Do You Get Dolphins to Follow You In A Boat?

You can do a few things to make dolphins follow your boat. Start by making sure the dolphins are happy in their natural environment and that their space and behavior are respected. Keep your speed slow because boats can hurt the marine environment by making waves in the water.


You can also clap, call out to them, or throw them fish or other treats to get their attention. This will probably make them want to get closer and jump and flip their best for you. Also, if anyone on board is wearing bright colors like red or yellow, which stand out against the blue of the ocean, dolphins may be more drawn to the boat.

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Dolphins are sensitive to loud sounds, so keep the noise level down when you’re around them. Dolphins are wild animals, so don’t touch or bother them in any way. Doing so could hurt them, so be careful and respectful.

If you want to interact with dolphins in a way that is safe for humans and dolphins, you should work with a reputable tour company with experts who know about dolphin behavior and where dolphins live.

Also, if there are rules about swimming or watching dolphins in certain areas, follow these rules so that our aquatic ecosystems can stay healthy.

Risk Factors When Dolphins Swim with Boats

When dolphins swim with boats, several risk factors need to be considered. These include:

Boat Strikes

Swimming alongside boats can be an intense hazard for dolphins, as they may not always be visible and prone to be hit. If a dolphin is preoccupied with riding the bow wave or playing games, it might lack sufficient time to escape from the vessel’s path before it’s too late. In worst-case scenarios, these collisions can lead to serious injuries -or worse- death for dolphins.

Disturbance of Natural Behaviors

Boats can also disturb the natural behaviors of dolphins. Dolphins rely on sound to communicate and navigate in their environment, and loud boat engines can disrupt their ability to hear and locate prey. In addition, the presence of boats can disrupt social behaviors, such as mating or feeding, and cause stress for the animals.

Habitat Degradation


Boats can also have disastrous effects on dolphins’ habitats. The turbulent wake and propeller wash from boats can erode shorelines, disrupt seagrass beds, and devastate other vital habitats that serve as food or shelter for dolphins. Over time, this destruction could adversely impact the health and survival of dolphin populations.

Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

The use of fuels and other chemicals in boats can also pose a risk to dolphins. Exposure to these substances can cause a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, skin irritation, and reproductive problems.


Now you have a compact knowledge of why dolphins swim with boats. Here the main reason is the dolphins’ curiosity and the boat’s sound attraction. They love to interact with humans and enjoy playing with us.

But, if humans’ carelessness or lack of knowledge causes any harm to the dolphins and their habitat, it could be fatal. Therefore, you must stay alert and follow all safety measures for safe interaction with dolphins when you are in a boat. Enjoy your time with these beautiful animals, but make sure they are safe by taking care of yourself and them.