Posted by: Anne Murray | February 24, 2010

Dall’s porpoises in the Strait

A ferry crossing on Valentine’s Day was enlivened by the sight of over 150 Dall’s porpoises leaping and splashing in the calm blue waters of the Georgia Straight. The ferry left Duke’s Point at 12.45 and about 45 minutes into the voyage we saw the first of many small pods of these beautiful black and white marine mamals. They look like miniature orcas, but “porpoise” the waves in a light, dancing motion, chasing each other and twisting on a dime to splash into the water. There were at least 15 pods of about 10 individuals each, spread out and all heading northwest up the Strait. Some were at a distance, and you could see where the water was a bit darker and churned up even before their backs and fins became visible. Others were close by the ferry, delighting passengers who were quick enough to spot them. With these nearby views, we could catch a glimpse of the characteristic white patch on the dorsal fin as well as the white markings on their side and belly as they leapt from the water.

Harbour porpoises, that can also be seen in the Strait, are dark animals, with no white on their fin, and they are usually seen in ones or twos, or small groups (though I have seen up to 40 fishing in close proximity on a day of calm waters south of Saturna Island). They characteristically roll slowly up to the surface, just showing their back and fin as a hump before diving again.

It is always fun to watch for marine animals from the ferry. A pity I didn’t have my camera for pictures, although probably they would just show up as splashes like most of my whale pictures do!



  1. Anne: This is a remarkable sighting! They probably were pursuing herring. To think that we have such wildlife spectacle on the outskirts of the city is something very special.

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