BEAUMONT — A Southeast Texas family was surprised to see several dolphins swimming in the Neches River near Beaumont on Sunday.
Winter Cascio-Smith, of Lumberton, posted a video on Facebook Sunday morning of what appears to be at least four of the mammals swimming in the green waters of the Neches.
"Oh you know, just hanging out with some dolphins on the Neches," Cascio-Smith wrote with the video post.
Cascio-Smith told 12News that she, her husband, Josh and their 7-year-old daughter, Emory, were out for a Sunday boat ride when they spotted the dolphins swimming downriver near the ExxonMobil refinery in Beaumont.
She said that Emory was "extremely happy and amazed" because she had never seen dolphins up close.
The family watched the dolphins for about 10 minutes before the mammals disappeared from view she said.
By Monday morning Cascio-Smith's video had been shared nearly 300 times and amassed more than 16,000 views.
In the comments she and several others expressed surprise at seeing the dolphins up the river.
Several other commenters, however, reported seeing dolphins in the Neches River near the Wheelhouse in Port Neches and as far upriver as River Front Park in Beaumont and the salt water barrier on the Neches in the north end of Beaumont.
While sightings of dolphins on Sabine Lake and up the Neches River are not as common as seeing them in the bay from the Galveston ferry it is no surprise to Captain Rod Ousley, a Game Warden with Texas Parks & Wildlife in Beaumont.
Several years ago there was even a manatee that became stranded in Cow Bayou, Captain Ousley recalled.
Sea World was called in to help the manatee find its way back to the gulf he said.
The Bottlenose Dolphin, or Tursiops truncatus, is the most commonly seen dolphin of the 26 species of whales and dolphins found along the Texas Gulf Coast according to Texas Parks & Wildlife.
The dolphins will follow their favorite food source, mullet, and that can lead them into the river he said.
Dolphins are federally protected mammals so they should be left alone according to Ousley who recalled that several years ago someone was brought up on federal charges in Southeast Texas for killing a dolphin with a bow.