They may be small and elusive, but lately a large group of harbour porpoises, full of energy, have been hanging out in the mouth of the Prince Rupert harbour.
Research squad Caitlin Birdsall and Karina Dracott with the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative took their boat out into the harbour to have a look at the uncommon sighting for themselves.
“We saw a lot of high-level activities with the porpoises. There were mothers and calves out there, which was really great to see,” Dracott said. “Every direction we looked, they were flying through the water. There’s a lot of energy, which usually they’re kind of slow moving.”
The porpoises were moving so quickly, they had trouble capturing them on camera.
For the past two years, the research team has been studying the animals, a special concern species, in the Prince Rupert area. They use an underwater listening device called a sea pod to listen for high frequency clicks that the harbour porpoises emit.
“We have a land-based spot that we take a high-powered scope out, and we basically count the number of harbour porpoises using that area,” Birdsall added.
What makes this active group in the harbour even more unusual, Dracott said, is the vessel traffic in the area. Along the coast, it’s the second largest aggregation of harbour porpoises they’ve seen on an annual basis.
“One of the reasons we want to understand how they’re using that area and when they’re using it is to be able to work with different industry groups to better protect and reduce disturbance,” Birdsall said.
Citizens are encouraged to do their part as well. They can download the free WhaleReport app from the Ocean Wise Conservation Association to report harbour porpoises, whales, and dolphins in the area.
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Shannon Lough | Editor
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