By Jane Nahirny, Editor, BC Magazine
Last Thursday, passengers on a BC Ferry travelling from Galiano Island to Tsawwassen were rewarded with front-row seats to an incredible sight in the Strait of Georgia—a “super pod” of almost 1,000 Pacific white-sided dolphins. I travel this route regularly for work and knew last week’s sighting in the Strait was a rare occurrence. Still, I hoped that I might see some dolphins, too, on my journey yesterday from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Victoria).
I wasn’t disappointed: shortly after BC Ferries’ Spirit of Vancouver passed through Active Pass en route to Victoria, the captain alerted us to the presence of a pod of dolphins about two nautical miles ahead. The cafeteria emptied as passengers excitedly moved to the ship’s outer decks. I made my way to the bow—and suddenly there they were: more than 100 dolphins cresting out of the water with choreographed precision.
Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, head of the Vancouver Aquarium’s cetacean research team, told me that the dolphins I saw yesterday were probably not part of last week’s super pod. “If I had to guess, I’d say it was the group we commonly see in the strait,” he said.
Many of my fellow passengers were in tears as the dolphins sped away from the ferry. The emotional response makes sense, said Barrett-Lennard. “In our daily lives, we never have the opportunity to play with wild animals. Pacific white-sided dolphins are really intelligent and highly social. They seek out interaction—and that’s so unusual.”
For me, the sighting was a poignant reminder of the incredible natural world that surrounds us in this province, even on a “regular commute.”