Naturalists believe short-beaked common dolphins were frolicking in Salish Sea, which would make it the first sighting of the species this far north
A spectacular sight in the waters near Victoria over the weekend was captured by a whale watching boat.
The crew and naturalists on board spotted a school of ‘common dolphins‘ and it may well be the first-ever sighting of the species in the Salish Sea.
The short-beaked common dolphins were spotted off Port Angeles on Saturday, milling for fish and while they may be called common, they certainly aren’t in these parts.
Unlike the Pacific Northwest’s pacific white-sided dolphins, ‘common dolphins’ are temperate animals and generally don’t journey north of California.
Last September, two small schools of common dolphins were confirmed about 75 kilometres south west of the Island.
Before that, the only record of the species in the waters off British Columbia or Washington state were three dead dolphins discovered over the course of about 60 years.
“We get very excited of course whenever we have a rare sighting like this,” explains Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association. “They’re beautiful animals and we’re thrilled to get a chance to observe and study them, but at the same time we know that if our oceans were healthier and this planet weren’t in the throes of a climate crisis we probably wouldn’t be seeing this species up here.”
This species of dolphin have a distinctive criss-cross colour pattern and are believed to be among the fastest marine mammals on the planet,
The photos of the 12 dolphins spotted over the weekend have been sent to Cascadia Research Collective to confirm that this is the first sighting here.