Sunday, August 27, 2017

Heading South: New Species

   During our final trip of the 2017 Alaska season we set a course all the way from Juneau to Seattle. After we left Alaskan waters south of Ketchikan and entered the British Columbia section of the inside passage I didn't expect to get any mind blowing wildlife sightings, maybe a few whales or porpoise here or there. Then, just as I am finishing up a presentation I get the word that there is some kind of wildlife up ahead, small but numerous. I figured it was porpoise but in the back of my mind I was hoping it was a species of dolphins that we don't see at all in Alaska, and that is exactly what it was!

  For some reason pacific white sided dolphins have always been one of my favorites. Their beautiful markings and contrasting coloration make them stand above other dolphins. Their tall falcated dorsal fin with its telltale patch of off white is like a beacon to identify them with. But despite their outside beauty trying to steal the show, it is quite often their acrobatic ability and fun loving nature that quickly wins over the crowd. This pod was no exception.

  To start out with the pod was huge. They had found an even bigger school of bait fish that was congregating where two currents met, creating ripples on the surface of the otherwise smooth water. Some took minutes out of their busy eating schedule to come bow ride our boat, periodically turning in the water to look up at all of us. Others showed off by racing along side the boat and catching fish at the same time. Another performed a head over tails front flip while bowriding which I had never witnessed before.

  The pod was probably 200 dolphins strong. It coincided with the first good weather we have seen yet this trip. The passengers seemed born again with revitalized energy and excitement. We have had a lot of good encounters this season. I didn't expect B.C. to provide another top pick but here you go, check out this pictures and see for yourself.

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