July 25th - Dall's porpoises!

Our guests on board the open boat Keta today had the pleasure of seeing two Dall's porpoises milling around within the Southern Gulf Islands.

We took off from Nanaimo harbour and passed through Dodd's Narrows where you can see the whirlpools forming around the boat, shifting us ever so slightly. The whirlpools are quite common in this channel of water, with the changes in tide levels and opposing water currents, we are able to observe these phenomena during most of our passes. Next time you're on the boat with us and we head through Dodd's Narrows don't forget to take a look over the sides of the boats! 

As the trip continued and we travelled south through the Gulf Islands, our naturalist on board, Rodrigo, spotted some dorsal fins poking out of the water. At first, in his peripheral vision it was thought to be a harbour porpoise, one of the more common porpoises we see as we boat along. But once we got a better look, it was easy to see that a Dall's porpoise had surfaced!

 Dall's porpoise surfacing, check out the colouration on the dorsal fin! Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

Dall's porpoise surfacing, check out the colouration on the dorsal fin! Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

This marine mammal often gets mistaken for a baby killer whale. While they are both black and white, the colouration pattern is slightly different, as well as body shape, dorsal fin, and fluke. A Dall's porpoise has a very robust body and an unusually large hump where the caudal (tail) fin attaches to its body. The dorsal fin is also triangular, similarly to a killer whale, however it is both black and white. The Dall's porpoise also lacks the saddle patch which is quite evident in the killer whales that inhabit the Salish Sea. This species can move at very quick speeds for a short period of time and when they are surfacing during travel you can often see a rooster tail from the water spray. 

 You can just see the start of a second porpoise surfacing to the left! The large hump where the caudal fin attaches to the body is more noticeable on the porpoise to the right. Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

You can just see the start of a second porpoise surfacing to the left! The large hump where the caudal fin attaches to the body is more noticeable on the porpoise to the right. Photo by Rodrigo Menezes.

Looking for a fun activity while you're in Nanaimo? Come check us out and enjoy a beautiful day on the water whale watching!

Jilann LechnerComment