PEI

Dolphin swims with beach goers on P.E.I.'s North Shore

People were treated to a surprise they'll never forget as what officials believe was a dolphin scurried up to the shallow waters of a beach on the North Shore of P.E.I.

'No one was out there trying to scare it or corral it'

'It kept swimming around, it was coming close to people, it wasn't bothered by people,' says Tricia MacGregor. (Submitted by Tricia MacGregor)

People were treated to a surprise they'll likely never forget, as what officials believe was a dolphin scurried up to the shallow waters of a beach on the North Shore.

Tricia MacGregor and her daughter Sophie were two of the many people at the beach in North Rustico, P.E.I., Tuesday when a dorsal fin bobbed above the waves.

Someone walked over to where she and her daughter were sitting on the beach and asked a lifeguard what that fin was in the water.

What everyone saw was what looked like a dolphin or a porpoise zigzagging through the waters between people in waist-deep water.

The look on the lifeguards' faces, she said, "I thought they were going to fall off their stand." 

MacGregor wasn't going to go near, she said, but her daughter went out into the water to see what was going on. She grabbed her phone, went in and kept her distance.

"It kept swimming around, it was coming close to people, it wasn't bothered by people … kids were actually touching it, or patting it as it went by," she said.

'Never have I seen anything like it'

Kayakers were passing by when the dolphin began scooting its way close to the shore. At the same time, someone noticed a pod out further and lifeguards began telling people not to touch the animal, MacGregor said.

"They kind of wanted people to stop patting it because they didn't want to lure them in closer," she said.

There was a sandbar nearby and people began to worry that the dolphin would be trapped.

Some kayakers took action and, without touching the dolphin she said, escorted it around the sandbar and back out to the pod, where it rejoined its group.

"No one was out there trying to scare it or corral it, the kayakers were just there gently trying to lure it back out," she said.

Her daughter is still overjoyed to have seen the spectacle up close.

"I go to that beach all the time, that's my favourite beach, and never have I seen anything like it.... Never forget it," MacGregor said.

'These are likely dolphins'

A spokesperson for the province's Department of Environment said staff say the shape of the dorsal fin suggests it was a dolphin, not a porpoise.

In an emailed statement, Laura Bourque, a wildlife pathologist with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, said "these are likely dolphins based on the size and the dorsal fin but I have no idea what species."

In cases where marine mammals are within that distance we ask people to slowly move away.— Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Krista Petersen, a spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said it is not at all recommended to approach any marine mammals, including dolphins or porpoises.

The department is reminding people of the regulations in place to protect marine mammals.

"It is illegal under the federal marine mammal regulations to disturb marine mammals. People, including people in boats, are required to remain 100 metres from most marine mammals, including dolphins, porpoises and whales. In cases where marine mammals are within that distance we ask people to slowly move away," a statement said.

The statement also said if a marine mammal seems to be injured or in distress, people should contact the Marine Animal Response Society at 1 866-567-6277

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