May 15, 2011

Dolphin leaping in Knight Inlet

It’s that time of year again.  Pacific white-sided are making appearances in the waters throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Last month, Knight Inlet, BC was bursting with Pacific white-sided dolphins and we were there to collect ID photographs, acoustic recordings (Click here to listen) and prey samples.

Soon after our Knight Inlet trip ended, our colleague, Dr Andrew Wright, photographed a group of dolphins in Howe Sound, between Vancouver and Bowen Island!  He took some beautiful photographs, and a few of the individuals bear distinctive markings.  Now, thanks to the support from the SeaDoc Society, we are doing the painstaking work of comparing his few mug shots to our catalogue, to see if there are any matches between dolphins in the Broughton Archipelago and those using the Salish Sea.  In fact, our partnership with SeaDoc has inspired us to take a transboundary look at our cetacean conservation work more generally.

Which reminds us, if you spot any dolphins, we are very grateful for any opportunistic photographs of dolphin dorsal fins.  This is what a dolphin ID shot looks like:

Example of a photo used for identification

but, please, only try this at home if you have a really long lens.  Remember that the “Be Whale Wise Guidelines” also apply to dolphins, so please remember to remain at least 100 meters/yards away.  Thanks!


  1. Heather says:

    Pacific white sided dolphins are my absolute favorite!! I am a marine naturalist on a whale watch boat, however we don’t usually get to see them down here in the Salish Sea. In my four years I’ve only had one encounter with them. This just will not do! If I wanted to travel up Vancouver Island for an encounter, do you recommend a general location/time of year that is going to be best to find them? What about a reputable tour company?

    • oceans says:

      Hi Heather! Thanks so much the feedback. We (obviously) love Pacific white-sided dolphins, too! Erin’s dolphin study follows on a groundbreaking study by Alexandra Morton in the Broughton Archipelago that started in the 1980s. Read about Alexandra’s work in this paper, and you can see that her peak season for dolphins was spring and fall, but we also see them most days in summer. But don’t write off seeing them in the Salish Sea! In fact, Erin is doing some photo-ID matching between dolphins photographed off southern and northern Vancouver Island. Did you get good photographs from your encounter?

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