I havn't tried this, but if you break out one of Maya's default canned ocean example fluids, they come with a HEIGHTFIELD NODE.
This node effects a nurbs plane (that does NOT render btw) to give you a pseudo-preview what your ocean waves will look like before rendertime.
But what if you selected that plane, and tweaked the ocean shader/texture to wave and peak like you want,
make the ocean not visible
then make the nurbs surface a surface emitter, but make the emitted particles have an attenuation setting so that they just spawn, then stop moving outwards.
So, then, in theory, they will just "ride the waves" and depending on how dense your instances are, it could very much look like the animation you are looking for
Good luck, and lemme know if that works
PS, I think you can do this also without the oceam fluid too.
Just do a doc search on usage of the heightfield node with a nurbs plane so that you can try this with a lighter scene
Israel "Izzy" Long
Motion and Title Design for Broadcast-Film-DS