Dall’s Porpoises

July 2024
Dall's porpoises

We often see Dall’s porpoises on our Telegraph Cove tours, and our naturalists have compiled the most frequently asked questions about this fascinating cetacean!

Dall’s porpoises are often mistaken for dolphins due to their similar appearance and energetic behaviour. However, they belong to a separate family, Phocoenidae, distinct from dolphins! We have been seeing them pretty consistently, so let’s go through the questions we always get:

Is a Dall’s Porpoise a Dolphin?

No, Dall’s porpoises are actually not dolphins! They are a species of porpoise, specifically known as Phocoenoides dalli, named after the American naturalist W.H. Dall. Porpoises typically have a more robust body, shorter beaks, spade-shaped teeth, and triangular dorsal fins, while dolphins are more streamlined with longer, prominent beaks, cone-shaped teeth, and curved or hooked dorsal fins. Dolphins exhibit more playful and social behaviour in a wider range of global habitats, including around the North Coast of Vancouver Island.

What is the Lifespan of a Dall’s Porpoise?

Dall’s porpoises typically live between 15 to 20 years in the wild, although some individuals may live longer under ideal conditions. The Broughton Archipelago is known for its pristine waters and abundant food supply, making it the perfect location to spot them!

What Do Dall’s Porpoises Eat?

These porpoises are carnivorous hunters, feeding primarily on small fish such as herring, anchovies, and squid. They are known for their agile hunting skills and high-speed pursuit of prey, and they can actually go faster than a car in an urban centre!

Where Are Dall’s Porpoises Located?

Dall’s porpoises are found in cool, temperate waters of the North Pacific Ocean. They are commonly sighted along the coastlines of North America, particularly from Alaska to California, as well as in the waters around Japan and Russia. They are common in BC and often spotted on our kayaking tours!

How Fast Is a Dall’s Porpoise?

Dall’s porpoises are known for their remarkable speed, capable of swimming at 55 km/h (34 mph) speeds. They are one of the fastest marine mammals and can often be seen swimming and hunting with their pods extremely fast just outside of Telegraph Cove!

How Big Is a Dall’s Porpoise?

Adult Dall’s porpoises typically measure 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) in length and can weigh 300 to 500 pounds (136 to 227 kilograms). They are pretty easily identified due to their robust body with a distinct black-and-white colouration pattern, similar to killer whales!

Where is the best place in BC to see Dall’s porpoises?

Well, Telegraph Cove, of course! The Johnstone Strait and the Broughton Archipelago are definitely Dall’s favourite playground, and we agree! 

In conclusion, Dall’s porpoises are charismatic creatures that thrive in dynamic ocean environments. They showcase grace and agility in their natural habitat. Their distinct characteristics and behaviours make them a fascinating subject of study and admiration for marine enthusiasts worldwide. Come watch them with us!