Posted by: cherylyoung | January 27, 2013

Day 66 Yes we do have Dolphins In B.C

Day 66 Yes we do have Dolphins In B.C

Pacific White Sided Dolphins can be often seen on

whale watching tours off Northern Vancouver

Island

 

Text by Jocie Ingram (knowingnature”at”telus.net),

Dolphin Photos by Rolf Hicker

 

A few years ago, I sailed north from Port Hardy

to Prince Rupert on the Queen of the North

 

It was a night sailing in November and the evening

was exceptionally clear, with a full moon.

 

The old teak fixtures in my cabin rattled continuously

making sleep impossible, so I went out for a night

stroll on the deck.

 

Just then, I noticed several splashes in the water,

breaking up the path of reflected moonlight.

 

I soon realized that this was a pod of

Pacific white sided dolphins, riding the bow wake

of the ship.

 

The Dolphins kept up to us with ease and often

leapt clear out of the water just for the joy of it.

 

It was a special moment, and I have always recalled

the beauty of the evening and the thrill of seeing

the dolphins.

 

The Pacific white-sided dolphin is the most frequently

encountered dolphin of our province, seen regularly

along the Inside Passage, the Strait of Georgia, and

the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

 

Limited to the temperate waters of the north Pacific,

the dolphins range from Alaska south to Baja, Mexico

and over to Japan.

 

These fast, energetic swimmers are known for their

playful acrobatics.

 

They leap, flip, somersault and belly flop, occasionally

jumping so far out of the water that they have been

known to land on the decks of ships.

 

Highly social creatures, dolphins typically travel in

groups of 10 to 100, though herds of more than 2000

have been spotted.

 

They enjoy approaching other marine mammals too,

such as whales, seals and sea lions.

Dolphins, porpoises and whales are mammals known

as Cetaceans.

 

Like Killer Whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins

belong the dolphin family or Delphinidae.

 

They are often nicknamed ?lags? due to their

long-winded latin name,

Lagenorhynchus olbiquidens.

 

Pacific white-sided dolphins have distinctive markings,

with a black back, light grey sides, and a white belly.

 

They also have “suspenders”, two white stripes that

extend from head to tail (most clearly visible

from above).

 

Lips and beak are black, and eyes are dark.

 

Flippers are curved, and blunt tipped, and the two-toned

dorsal (back) fin is hooked with a dark leading edge.

 

When dolphins speed through the water, their

dorsal fins create a splash called a “rooster tail”.

Adults average 2.3 metres long, and weigh up to

180 kilograms, and most live from 30 to 40 years.

 

Dolphins are perfectly adapted to their environment.

 

They have strong eye muscles and can change the

shape of their eye lens to focus in air and water.

 

Dolphins also have a highly developed sense of

hearing, and are very vocal animals, communicating

with high-pitched squeals using air trapped in their

blowholes.

 

Clicking sounds are used for echolocation, helping

dolphins navigate and locate prey.

 

Dolphins feed on creatures such as hake, anchovies,

squid and sardines.

 

They grip prey with their teeth, and swallow it

whole, head first. Dolphins have few predators, but

transient Killer Whales will sometimes prey upon them.

 

It is hard to imagine how such active animals sleep.

 

Scientists believe that dolphins are able sleep with

half a brain.

One half of the brain is awake while the other

half sleeps, then the sides switch.

 

Dolphins function normally during this time, and

the half-brained sleeping prevents drowning.

 

Pacific white-sided dolphins mate in late summer

or early fall.

 

After close to 12 months gestation, calves 1 metre long

are born.

 

Females generally give birth every three to four years,

and nurse calves for over a year after birth.

 

Between 1978 and 1990 it is estimated that as many

as 89, 000 Pacific white-sided dolphins were killed in

Asian driftnet fisheries.

 

Fortunately, these fisheries were discontinued after a

United Nations resolution in 1992.

 

Today, the dolphins are not considered to be a species

at risk, and populations appear stable though exact

numbers are unknown.

 

The discovery of teeth in ancient First Nations middens

suggests that dolphins have been around for

thousands of years.

 

Despite this, Pacific white sided dolphins were absen

t from coastal BC between 1915-1984.

 

The temporary absence of the dolphins has yet to be

understood, but it believed that a change in ocean

temperature (partly a result of oceanographic

events like El Nino), and corresponding shifts in

prey distribution might have affected the dolphins.

 

Pacific white-sided dolphins are a joy to watch, and

their social, playful behaviour makes them particularly

endearing to humans.

 

A safe way to view dolphins, whales and other

marine mammals is to take a whale watching tour.

 

Spread love wherever you go;

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better

and happier.

 

Be the living experience of God’s kindness, kindness

in his face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your

smile.

Kindness. Mother Teresa

 

www.bcadayatatime.com

 

www.cherylyoung.ca

cbythesea@shew.ca

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