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Pacific White-Sided Dolphins

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, March 29, 2018

James S.

Pacific white-sided dolphin at the surface - popup
Pacific white-sided dolphin at the surface Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello everyone, it’s been an exciting time on the water with all of the northbound gray whales we’re spotting, the fin whales, and the Pacific white-sided dolphins. Even though Long Beach is gearing up for the 2018 Grand Prix we’re still getting lots of awesome guests out on the boats to observe our local marine megafauna!

My favorite dolphin, the Pacific white-sided, have been in the area for a while now and will shortly start moving farther north as the water warms up. This dolphin has a north-south migratory pattern following the temperate waters of the Northern Pacific Ocean, rather than a nearshore-offshore pattern. They are often spotted along the continental shelf when they are not out in the open ocean, especially in front of the Long Beach/LA harbor area. If you are looking through our photos the last one is a map of the data collected by our naturalists. You can observe the pattern of where we see these dolphins, while in comparison we can see common or bottlenose dolphins anywhere within our survey area.

Pacific white-sided can often be mistaken for common dolphins from a distance, both are very acrobatic and have a similar size. Once you are close enough the first sign you’ve seen a Pacific white-sided is the bi-colored dorsal fin, they have a dark anterior or front half of their dorsal fin and a white posterior section of their fin.You can also notice that the white-sided have relatively no beak, unlike the bottlenose and common dolphins. I particularly love the dark - light variegated patterns of their coloring and just how striking their face looks when you get to see them from the front. Check out all the amazing photos in today’s blog and read below to get to know another of our interns, Jamie.

Hello. I recently graduated from Iowa State University with a B.A. in Animal Science. My first internship was at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo in the Nutrition Department. After leaving and coming back home to California, I found this internship at the Aquarium of the Pacific, which was more research-based and I thought how cool would it be to take photos of whales. And now I am here having a lot of fun, going out on the ocean and taking photos of the largest mammals on the planet. I have learned so much in this short period of time and I am excited to use this knowledge later on in my future. Also in my spare time, I like to paint and go on hikes.

If you haven’t been down to Long Beach, come on down and get our combo ticket to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific and a whale watch with Harbor Breeze Cruises. Boats depart twice per day on weekdays and three times a day on weekends in Long Beach. During the Grand Prix weekend, April 13-15, there won’t be any whale watches from Rainbow Harbor as the harbor grounds are not available to the public. Make your plans to visit Long Beach and the Aquarium of the Pacific today!

See you on the water!