Rare dolphin washes up at Naden

  • Sep. 21, 2007 2:00 p.m.

A rarely-sighted marine mammal washed onto the shores of Haida Gwaii in Naden Harbour on Sept. 19. It was sighted by John Sedo and his crew from Queen Charlotte Fishing Lodge, who at first thought it might be a killer whale. “We were down on the dock and the boys noticed something white on the beach… about 300 yards away,” said Mr. Sedo. “We phoned DFO… They asked us to take photos… and we sent the photos to them.” The photos were forwarded to Dr. John Ford, a whale researcher at DFO’s Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, BC. He quickly identified the animal as a rare Risso’s Dolphin. “Its jaw is very distinct with only a few teeth at the end of the jaw, unlike a killer whale which has many teeth,” Dr. Ford said. “It has an unusual head shape… a melon-shaped head with a dip in it.” Risso’s Dolphins are generally found in warmer waters and are squid eaters. “It is fairly unusual to see them off Haida Gwaii,” said Dr. Ford, “but a group of 30 or 40 were sighted earlier this summer off Langara Island.” The animal at Naden Harbour is about 12 feet long. “DFO asked us to collect the skeleton… but there were about five or six bears feasting on it… including a mama and her cubs,” said Mr. Sedo. Dr. Ford asks people to report sightings of whales, porpoises and dolphins to the DFO hotline at 1-800-465-4336 or the BC Cetaceans Sighting Network at 1-866-472-9663. This information goes into a database started in the early 1990s that now has over 35,000 sightings reported coast-wide in BC. The information is used by researchers for conservation, research and education. The Queen Charlotte Fishing Lodge is situated about three-quarters of the way into Naden Harbour across from Husby’s log sort. According to Mr. Sedo, he and his crew frequently sight whales in Naden. “About 10 days ago… a group of six killer whales were sighted,” he said. “When we see these things, we report them.”

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