PHOTOS: Striped dolphin spotted on Haida Gwaii, sparking marine investigation

Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)
Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)
Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)
Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)Alex Rinfret discovered a stranded striped dolphin on a Tlell beach on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, while walking her dog south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe. Experts are calling Rinfret’s discovery the first recorded sighting of the species on Haida Gwaii. (Alex Rinfret/Facebook photo)

Marine experts are investigating after the first-ever recorded sighting of a striped dolphin on Haida Gwaii.

Alex Rinfret was walking her dog near Tlell on Wednesday morning when she thought she saw a baby killer whale washed up on the beach, just south of the Crow’s Nest Cafe.

“The markings were quite striking,” Rinfret said of the animal, which was between six and seven feet long. “Very dark on top with a white belly.”

She had seen seals, sea lions, even sharks washed up on the beach before, but never a dolphin. And as it turned out, no one is believed to have seen that species of dolphin on Haida Gwaii before, ever.

ALSO READ: Rare dolphin offers rare opportunity

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was called to the scene and staff identified the animal as a deceased striped dolphin, not to be confused with the more common Pacific white-sided dolphin.

“It was pretty exciting,” she said. “It was a pretty interesting thing to come across and of course I’m wondering what happened to it.”

Masset-based fisheries officer Jamie Constable told the Observer there were no obvious signs of trauma on the dolphin, and it had been taken away on a stretcher Wednesday afternoon to be frozen and later analyzed by veterinary pathologist Dr. Stephen Raverty.

Constable said Raverty will perform a necropsy, looking for signs of disease or pathogens, as well as cause of death.

ALSO READ: Haida Gwaii grey whale deaths add to growing trend

Nanaimo-based marine mammal expert Dr. John Ford, who ran the cetacean research program at DFO’s Pacific Biological Station for more than 15 years, told the Observer there were no known sightings of striped dolphins in B.C. waters until last September, when a whale watching operator saw a lone striped dolphin swimming south of Victoria.

“This is a species of dolphin that tends to live in warm water,” Ford said, adding the animals generally do not swim north of California. “This is the first one north of Vancouver Island.”

Since the species tends to be social, travelling in schools of up to 200 animals, he said it is likely the single, stranded animal found by Rinfret had some health issues.

“As temperatures in the ocean are gradually increasing we may expect more sightings of exotic warm water species,” he added.

“Who knows what next will turn up on the beaches.”

ALSO READ: B.C. rescuers unable to save dolphin found on Vancouver Island

Ford reminded residents that if they find a marine animal stranded on the beach, dead or alive, they should call the DFO “Observe, Record Report line” at 1-800-465-4336.

“It’s really important,” he said.

Sometimes staff are able to save live, stranded animals and “it’s always important to try and examine fresh animals like this where one can actually determine if there’s a viral pathogen.”

“It might be possible to learn from it.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Fisheries and Oceans CanadaTlell

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A spokesperson for the Peninsula Country Market is upset that their third and final Winter Market won’t happen this Saturday in Central Saanich’s Centennial Park following moves by the municipality. (Facebook/Peninsula Country Market)
Central Saanich postpones weekend Winter Market, organizers upset

Lorea Tomsin said municipality’s move runs counter to provincial direction

As cyclists and pedestrians pass by at Humboldt and Government streets, a garden of blooming black-eyed Susans brightens up the northwest corner of the Fairmont Empress Hotel property on a partially sunny November afternoon. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Keep your umbrella handy for the next while around Greater Victoria

November has lived up to its reputation as one of the rainiest months of the year

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming moves to the role of transportation minister in the NDP’s new cabinet. (B.C. government file photo)
Greater Victoria MLAs claim key roles in new cabinet

Transportation, Indigenous relations, children and family development ministries headed by locals

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Most Read