Stranded Pacific White-Sided Dolphins

Could you imagine mowing your lawn and looking out to see a small group of Pacific white-sided dolphins stranded on the beach near your house?  That is exactly what happened to a fellow living across the road from Oyster Bay just outside of Campbell River, BC.

Early in the morning on June 28th a group of four Pacific white-sided dolphins stranded on a sandy beach at Oyster Bay.  Word spread quickly and about 80 people showed up on the beach to help the stranded dolphins.  Volunteers with the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Marine Mammal Incident and Reporting Network also responded to help.  The volunteers corresponded with DFO officials and the Vancouver Aquarium veterinary staff to help determine that the dolphins were in decent condition and should be moved back into the water.  Working together, the group carried the dolphins on tarps to the water where they were able to swim free.

The cause of the stranding is still unknown.  One of the dolphins had fresh-looking teeth marks from a killer whale on its back, and there had been several killer whale reports in the area the days leading up the stranding.  It is possible, therefore, that the dolphins were taking refuge in waters too shallow for the killer whales to enter…a behaviour that has been documented before in B.C.  Alternatively, some local observers wondered whether the dolphins were corralling fish in the shallow bay when they became stranded.  Most researchers feel that this is unlikely, however, since Pacific white-sided dolphins rarely travel across or feed in shallow areas.  So the mystery is still out there – why did they strand? But the good news is they were not re-sighted in the bay or along the coast indicating that a re-stranding from injury did not likely occur.

If you see a stranded, injured or dead cetacean or marine mammal please call the Marine Mammal Incident Reporting Hotline at 1-800-465-4336.  Like all wild animals, marine mammals can carry a variety of diseases, some of which are transferable to humans.  For your own safety please do not touch or try to move the animal without contacting the Marine Mammal Response Network first.

News article:  Times Colonist

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