Large numbers of Pacific white-sided dolphins return to B.C.

By The Canadian Press

Large numbers of Pacific white-sided dolphins are back in the northern part of B.C.’s Salish Sea after a century of absence.

The director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit at the University of British Columbia says the increase in dolphins in that particular area is unusual. Andrew Trites says Pacific white-sided dolphins are usually found in the open ocean, where they number about a million.

He says small numbers of the dolphins began to visit the Georgia Strait in the early 2000s, with about 100 to 200 eventually settling in the Salish Sea.

Trites says this isn’t the first time Pacific white-sided dolphins have occupied the area. He says dolphin remains have been found in First Nations middens going back two thousand years, but they all but disappeared for 100 years.

Researchers are now questioning why they returned.

Trites says one possible explanation is an increase in the numbers of seals and sea lions, which through a complex food web may have resulted in more herring for dolphins to feed on.

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