Squamish Paddler Encounters Playful Dolphins in Howe Sound

Experienced kayaker has magical encounter with rare pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins in Howe Sound, British Columbia, a rare sighting that left him awestruck.

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Squamish Paddler Encounters Playful Dolphins in Howe Sound

Squamish Paddler Encounters Playful Dolphins in Howe Sound

A local paddler in Squamish, British Columbia had an incredible encounter with a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins while kayaking in Howe Sound on Sunday. John Thompson, an experienced sea kayaker, was paddling near Porteau Cove when he spotted the dolphins swimming and leaping out of the water nearby.

"It was absolutely amazing," said Thompson. "I've been kayaking in this area for over a decade and have never seen dolphins here before. There must have been at least 20 of them, swimming and playing all around me."

Pacific white-sided dolphins are not commonly seen in the waters near Squamish. They are more typically found further out in the Strait of Georgia and off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Marine biologists say a pod of dolphins venturing this far into Howe Sound is a rare occurrence.

"It's quite unusual to see Pacific white-sided dolphins in Howe Sound," said Dr. Sarah Patton, a marine mammal researcher with Ocean Wise. "This pod may have been following a school of herring or other prey fish into the sound. It's an exciting sighting and a real treat for anyone who was able to witness it."

Thompson captured photos and video of the dolphins during the encounter, which he shared with local media. The images show the dolphins swimming close to his kayak, often in pairs or small groups.

"A few of them came right up beside me, almost close enough to touch," he said. "They seemed as curious about me as I was about them. It felt like they wanted to play. I could hear them breathing and squeaking to each other. It was a magical experience."

After several minutes, the pod of dolphins moved on, heading back out towards the open water of the sound. Thompson said he feels incredibly fortunate to have had such a close interaction with the animals.

"In all my years of paddling, I've never experienced anything like it," he said. "To have a whole pod of wild dolphins swimming freely around you is something I'll never forget. I'm so grateful I was in the right place at the right time to see them. It just goes to show you never know what you might encounter when you're out on the water."

Dr. Patton noted that while the dolphin sighting is exciting, it's important for boaters and paddlers to keep a respectful distance from marine mammals and not to disturb them, even if they approach on their own. She said the dolphins were likely just passing through the area and are not expected to remain in Howe Sound for an extended time.

Key Takeaways

  • Paddler in Squamish, BC had rare encounter with 20+ Pacific white-sided dolphins.
  • Dolphins are not commonly seen in Howe Sound, usually found in Strait of Georgia.
  • Paddler captured photos and videos of the dolphins swimming and playing around his kayak.
  • Marine biologist says the pod may have been following prey fish into the sound.
  • Boaters should keep respectful distance from marine mammals to avoid disturbance.