The pacific white-sided dolphins are seen quite often on both the grizzly bear tours and the whale watching safari. These dolphins are present in First Nation’s middens dating back 2,000 years, but they were rare in B.C. during the 19th and 20th centuries. Starting in the 1980’s, Pacific white-sided dolphins started to become more abundant in inshore waters and inlets along the B.C. coast. It’s possible that their long absence was related to a change in ocean temperatures and a shift in their prey distribution. Dolphins travel in groups throughout their lives. We usually encountered groups of 50 to several 100 animals, although some groups have been seen with 1,000 or more individuals in our viewing area. As the photo demonstrates these dolphins are energetic and quite active and are frequently seen leaping, belly flopping, and somersaulting. They are strong, fast swimmers and enthusiastic bow riders, often staying with moving vessels for extended periods.
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