October 19, 2018
Porpoises offer clues about life in British Columbia’s mysterious fjords
BY: Amy McDermott
Wildlife is a welcome sight at the close of a long day at sea. Here, Dall’s porpoises slip through calm waters on Oceana’s spring 2018 expedition to the Central Coast of British Columbia.
Dozens of these black and white toothed whales, which are relatives of orcas, rode along the bow of the CCGS Vector — a science vessel carrying researchers from Oceana in Canada, the Canadian government and First Nations groups — to explore the region’s unique and mysterious ecosystems.
While the team wasn’t looking for Dall’s porpoises per se, their appearance hints that prey such as fish, squid and octopus may also be abundant in the fjords. “We watched them swim over from the shoreline, directly toward us, and start riding the bow wave. We were so delighted to watch them play,” said Oceana Canada Marine Scientist Alexandra Vance. “There were about 30 of them, all doing incredible acrobatics right before our eyes.”
Standing at the bow, watching the sun sink toward the horizon and porpoises dip beneath the waves, researchers enjoyed a gorgeous evening, while gleaning clues about the food chain they came to study.
It was a beautiful moment. And it could someday help protect this wild ecosystem.