New Year's Day dolphin pod thrills B.C. ferry passengers

A fast-moving pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins delighted the passengers of a ferry travelling from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay on Monday.

Pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins an increasingly common sight on the West Coast, says expert

Julian Laffin saw this pod from the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay. 0:21

Some lucky ferry passengers in B.C. were treated to the ultimate New Year's Day performance when a fast-moving pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins swam along port side.

Hornby Island resident Julian Laffin was travelling on the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay when he saw the dolphins and took a video of the spectacle.

"It certainly surprised everyone on the ferry," Laffin said.

Jessica Torode, the coordinator of the B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network, confirmed the animals in the pod were Pacific white-sided dolphins.

She said these dolphins can be identified by their distinct shading pattern. The animals have a grey dorsal side and a white belly with light stripes and a curved dorsal fin.

"They tend to be seen in groups of 10 to 200 but can occasionally form large supergroups of over 1,000 animals," Torden said.

"Here they can be seen swimming quickly with a behaviour known as 'porpoising,' where their bodies completely clear the water."

Torode said these dolphins weren't often seen in B.C.'s coastal waters prior to the mid 1980s, but due to a shift in ocean temperature and prey availability, they have become increasingly common in the Strait of Georgia.

She said ferry passengers often report seeing them, including most recently on Christmas Eve.

"Everyone was just trying to get the best view," Laffin said. "But I think I got the best one."

With files from Rhianna Schmunk and Richard Theriault