British Columbia

Common dolphins may have been seen in Salish Sea: rare sighting

Although the Pacific Whale Watch Association says this could be the first live sighting of short-beaked common dolphins in the Salish Sea, two schools of the dolphins were seen off the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island in September.

Pacific Whale Watch Association says short-beaked common dolphins never seen alive in Salish Sea

An example of a short-beaked common dolphin breaching the waters of the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific Whale Watch Association believes short-beaked common dolphins may have been seen in the Salish Sea for the first time ever. (Erin Gless)

The Pacific Whale Watch Association says short-beaked common dolphins may have been seen in the Salish Sea off Port Angeles, Washington, in what could be a first-ever live sighting.

The PWWA said in a written news release that the short-beaked common dolphins prefer tropical and temperate waters and generally don't travel north of California.

The PWWA says dead dolphins have been spotted in the Salish Sea — three have been found in the last 60 years.

"We get very excited of course whenever we have a rare sighting like this," PWWA executive director Michael Harris said in the statement. "But at the same time we know that if our oceans were healthier and this planet weren't in the throes of a climate crisis we probably wouldn't be seeing this species up here."

The possible sighting took place on June 11, when a whale-watching boat came across a school of dolphins feeding in the Port Angeles harbour.

The crew believed they were Pacific white-sided dolphins until a passenger — "an experienced naturalist" — identified the dolphins as short-beaked common dolphins.

The passenger's photos have been sent to scientists at the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, WA, for confirmation.

Although the PWWA says this could be the first live sighting of short-beaked common dolphins in the Salish Sea, two schools of the dolphins were seen off the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island in September.

now