Cortes Species Highlight: Harbour Porpoise

— by Shannon Hogan, 30 August 2022

Every once in a while, you’re gifted a magic moment. One of my most recent magic moments was at Smelt Bay during sunset. It was a warm, incredibly still summer evening with the sunset casting pink and purple hues all over the place while we played around on the paddleboard. As we were admiring the sunset, we started to hear some gasps from the beach, followed shortly by joyous exclamations. To our utter amazement, a small pod of harbour porpoises had popped up a few dozen metres ahead of us! We quickly put the brakes on the paddleboarding, sat down on our boards and drifted languidly together in complete silence.

We were now busy: Watching. Observing. Listening.

The pod methodically swam back and forth between an anchored boat and a lone buoy. We surmised that they must be corralling fish and catching their dinner. As our eyes trailed them: back and forth and back and forth, we quietly attempted to identify what cetacean species was in front of us. At first, we couldn’t tell if they were white-sided dolphins or harbour porpoises. They never fully breached clear of the water’s surface. When they came up for air, we could only see their small, triangular dorsal fin followed by a quick glimpse of their back. Then, as they swam, they almost looked as if they were rolling and completing an underwater summersault! Eventually, we decided that we must have had the pleasure of witnessing a small pod of harbour porpoises! There was even a tiny baby with the tiniest dorsal fin, swimming alongside the adults and learning the craft of fishing!

Thank you, Cortes, for that special magic moment!

Follow these links to learn more about this porpoise!

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