I spent Canadian Thanksgiving this week as naturalist aboard the 92-foot schooner Maple Leaf in my own marine backyard, the Broughton / Blackfish Archipelago (Northern Vancouver Island, BC, CANADA).
The exceptionally talented ship’s chef served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Certainly no popcorn there!
But, Nature dished out “pop-corning” Pacific White-Sided Dolphins.
“Pop-corning” is the jargon given to the behaviour when this highly acrobatic species explodes into the air; popping up again and again.
There were some 500 of them, playing in the wind and waves with Steller Sea Lions leaping amongst them. It is difficult for me to express just how exhilarating this was; just how awe-inspiring. With mouth agape, I tried to take photos to capture what we witnessed.
We had already seen so much. In less than 48 hours in a 16 kilometre stretch in this area, we also saw:
- Repeat sightings of eight lunge feeding humpbacks. This included seeing three of them lunging for the same mass of small schooling fish; one of them (BCY0728, aka “Conger”) tail slapping at Steller sea lions and; sighting an individual that has never been recorded in the area before (BCY0310, aka “Dragonfly”).
- Large numbers of Steller Sea Lions with some choosing to inquisitively circle and surface right beside the boat. This was one of the best opportunities I have ever had to photograph Stellers.
- And . . . some 32 fish-eating “Resident Orca” – the A12 and A36; A34, A30 and I15 matrilines. They were travelling slowly, vocalizing intently. Some were foraging while calves played and others had Pacific White-Sided Dolphins leaping around them.
So much to be thankful for. And very worth sharing with you so that together we can work to ensure that this beauty and biodiversity is here for all future generations to give thanks for.
I have put together the 3-minute slideshow below, hoping it provides a sense of how amazing it was to have pop-corning dolphins (and so much more) for Thanksgiving.