Pacific white-sided dolphins are found continuously throughout the north Pacific. In British Columbia, it is estimated that approximately 25,000 Pacific white-sided dolphins reside along our coast. These dolphins are opportunistic predators feeding on over 60 species of fish and 20 species of cephalopods. In BC, they feed on at least 13 different prey species, including salmon, herring, Pollock, shrimp, sablefish, smelt, and squid. They forage cooperatively, though large groups may separate into smaller sub-groups for foraging purposes. These feeding groups have been observed corralling and herding fish in a coordinated fashion. They are covered by the “Whales Watching Guidelines” in that we are required to keep back 100 meters (yards) while viewing, however they do not appear to read these guidelines and always want to play with the boat.
The last 3 years we have been starting to view sea otters in our area more regularly. They are still often a distance away, but the sightings are increasing with some “rafts” of them developing in areas near the western portion of our whale watching trips. These animals were hunted heavily for their fur and were completely wiped out of British Columbia waters. Re-introduction occurred from Alaskan otters in the 1960’s. They have long been protected and their numbers have been steadily increasing along the exposed BC coast and are now moving back into inside waters. They are unique in that they don’t have the insulating blubber that other marine mammals use to keep warm. As a result they have dense (over 1 million hairs per square inch) fur and feed heavily. They are important in balancing the eco-system. They eat a lot of sea urchins, which eat a lot of kelp. Kelp is extremely important as it provides cover for juvenile fish and is where the herring spawn in the early spring. With the increase in these otters we are seeing a greater abundance and healthier kelp forests.Visit our Blog