A PLAYFUL dolphin pod has been filmed in what has been described as a "once in a lifetime" encounter.

On Tuesday, June 29, Ray Burn from Peacehaven was out on a boat trip 20 nautical miles due south from Brighton Marina when he spotted the dolphins.

As a commercially endorsed yachtmaster and professional photographer, Ray spends on average 150 days a year out on the sea and sees dolphins roughly six times a year.

In Ray's recording, the dolphins can be seen swimming alongside the boat until suddenly one leaps an estimated 15 feet into the air.

He then cuts the engine of the boat, and the dolphins continue to swim around, occasionally popping the heads up.

The 54-year-old said: "It is reasonably rare, even for someone who is full time at sea.

"What makes this magical is that it was only the second time in my career that they swam next to the boat and the level of interaction that we had, especially with the one jumping clean out of the water.

"Even as a full-time skipper, I would describe that as a once in a lifetime moment. I will see dolphins again, but I will be very surprised if I see that again."

Ray has travelled 50,000 nautical miles out of Brighton Marina and has been in his role for the past 12 years.

Watch the amazing video here

The video has also been sent to Sussex Dolphin Project. This organisation aims to "inspire and engage the local community to learn about the incredible marine wildlife off the Sussex coast".

Thea Taylor, Sussex Dolphin project lead, said: "We have had some great sightings over the last week from a pod of bottlenose dolphins that seems to be spending some time along the Sussex coast.

"Seventeen sightings have been reported in the last week alone, many of them from the shore. This video is an amazing example of how to interact with dolphins respectfully from a boat, engine-turned down or off, and allowing the dolphins to play on their own terms.

"The way the dolphin leaps clear of the water shows just how acrobatic they are. Bottlenose dolphins, in particular, are very playful and love to interact with, and sometimes show off for, humans and boats.

"Over the last 18 months, many people have become a lot more connected with our local coastline and wildlife, with a record year for dolphin sightings in Sussex last year.

"We have already overtaken the number of sightings we reached this time last year, so it will be exciting to see just how the rest of the year pans out.

"It's great to see the joy that dolphins can bring to people and how they can inspire people to advocate for our environment."

You can see more of Ray's photography click here and on Instagram @ray_burnimage