I cannot think of another photo that I have posted of white-sided dolphins, which tells a more complete story than this one from James O’Donoghue. On tour days we frequently travel with another boat from the lodge when we run to Johnstone Strait near Telegraph Cove to look for whales thus the picture of one of our boats in the back ground. Notice the warm “floater” suits the guests wear while on the water. Even though this is summer it is cool on the water in the morning. Also it is easy to pick out the guide without the suit as we tend to be climatized to the weather. The most amazing aspect of the photo is the fact that it shows every stage of white sides’ “porpoise” (short term for the way dolphins come out of the water when traveling in a hurry). It shows them first breaking out of the water to clearing the water and then their returning dive. Also note the calm water surrounding the ripples indicating there are likely several hundred dolphins keeping the water churned up as they pass close to our boat.
We know what is happening not sure why it is happening. The “Whale Trust website” says the tail lob or tail slap occurs when the whale extends its tail fluke above the water and slaps it forcibly down on the surface. This can be “right way up”, slapping the underneath side of the flukes on the water, or the reverse, with the whale belly-up slapping the dorsal (top-side) of the flukes on the water. This often, but not always, occurs many (35+) times in a row. As with the other behaviors, the meaning behind this behavior is unknown, but it has been speculated that it may be a way to ward off other whales, or to the contrary, to invite other whales to join a group. The explanation seems clear as mud but is sure exciting to watch. This photo by Gary Wilson was from the area of Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island.
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