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)

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

Just Posted

A sentencing hearing began for Joel Conway who was convicted of break and enter and sexual assault last year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Saanich man sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into woman’s home and sexually assaulting her

Crown is asking Joel Conway be sentenced to four years for both charges, to be served concurrent

Victoria fire crews quickly extinguished a multi-unit apartment building fire near Beacon Hill Park on Oct. 30. (Courtesy of Chief Paul Bruce)
Victoria fire crews extinguish multi-unit fire near Beacon Hill Park

Two people have suffered non-life-threatening injuries

Elianna Tory, 5, was surprised with a brand new toy Jeep by 642 Jeeps, a group of off-roading enthusiasts, after hers was stolen outside her home in early October. (Andrew Gaetz photo)
Sooke girl left speechless after Island off-road community replaces stolen toy Jeep

Sooke area Facebook group hunted far and wide before locating new toy in Vernon, BC

Cat owners are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a threatening note was found posted in a North Saanich neighbourhood. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
ROAM warns Peninsula cat owners after threatening note posted in neighbourhood

Note writer doesn’t want cats pooping in their yard, threatens to trap them

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Julia Strobach. File Photo
Nearing seventh anniversary, Comox Valley RCMP continue search for Julia Strobach

“We know that someone has information that will help us locate her.”

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

John Albert Buchanan, accused in the September 2017 murder of Richard Sitar in Nanaimo, is currently standing trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Man accused in Nanaimo beating death told police he didn’t hurt victim

Arresting officer takes the stand in John Albert Buchanan’s second-degree murder trial

Most Read