Path: Animal Facts / Dolphin Facts & Information
Pacific white-sided dolphins can be found in the British Columbia coastal waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean, up to 125 miles from the shore. Distinguished from all other B.C. cetaceans by their often large groups of several hundred. Sometimes they can be seen on whale watching tours off the northern part of Vancouver Island.
The body is black on the back, with striking light gray flanks and a white belly. Two gray stripes run along the entire length of the back. These markings are easily seen from above when the dolphin is riding bow waves. The dolphin has a short snout, or beak, and long curved pectoral flippers. Its black and grey dorsal fin is tall and curved. When fully grown, the Pacific white-sided dolphin is about 2.5 metres long and weighs up to 180 kilograms.
There are 29 teeth on each side of the upper jaw, and 32 on each side of the lower jaw.
Pacific White Sided Dolphins are carnivorous and feed primarily on squid, herring, lanternfish, hake, and anchovies.
These lively animals are very social, normally travelling in groups of 20 to several hundred, and at times the group could be as big as several thousand individual animals. These pods are generally the largest in September and October, averaging about 115 individuals, whereas in the winter months the herds are usually only 35 members large. Group size peaks in the fall because this time of year is breeding season for these animals. Once they reach maturity, Pacific White Dolphins begin reproducing and have a gestation period (pregnancy) of 10-12 months. At birth, these marine mammals are about 1m (3 ft) in length. It is likely that calves are born in summer or early fall.
Pacific white-sided dolphins are eager surfers and seldom pass up a chance to ride a bow or stern wave. Fast, powerful swimmers, they cartwheel and somersault with almost reckless abandon. Pacific white-sided dolphins not only enjoy each other’s company, they also like to travel with other types of whales and dolphins. They have been seen with northern right whale dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and humpback and gray whales, among others. Even seals and sea lions can be playmates.
Like all dolphins, Pacific White Sided Dolphin use echolocation (a series of rapid clicks) to locate objects, such as prey and obstacles. They make a variety of very high-pitched squeals, whistles and whines. These noises are most likely used to communicate with each other.
Please check out our photo gallery of dolphin photos.