DANA POINT, Calif. — Thousands of dolphins were seen leaping through the waters off the coast of Dana Point this week.

Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari, a whale watching tour agency in Orange County, said Thursday that passengers aboard their Manute’a catamaran were “thrilled” to experience the moment.

The dolphins could be seen enthusiastically lunging from the Pacific Ocean beside and in front of the boat.

Officials with the tour agency said those witnessing the moment were “awestruck” to be in the middle of such a large number of free-roaming marine mammals.

“One of the most amazing things you can ever see on this earth is a stampede of a huge herd of common dolphins,” said Capt. Dave Anderson, president of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. “You will never forget it.”

The tour agency says it’s unknown for sure what causes dolphins to exhibit this stampeding behavior, which happens spontaneously. Some theories suggest the dolphins may be meeting with another pod nearby, racing to catch prey, or evading natural predators like orcas.

“We were watching thousands of dolphins feed when they suddenly started stampeding,” said Caitlyn Nieblas, photographer and first mate for the tour agency. “It was incredible to watch and lasted for quite a while. The crew enjoyed it just as much as all of our passengers.”

According to the tour agency, Dana Point is one of the best places in the world to see mega-pods that can number in herds of up to 10,000.