It was one of the best boating days I’ve ever had. My first time going through Seymour Narrows, up Johnstone Strait, to Kelsey Bay on an absolutely glorious day.
On the way home though Discovery Passage I spotted some porpoises a little ways off on the starboard side, so I decided to take a swing over there and see what was there. I was expecting some harbour porpoises, but as soon as I turned my boat towards them, all the fins turned towards me and I knew right away those were no harbour porpoises!
I felt the adrenaline start to surge because I knew these guys wanted to play – Pacific White-Sided Dolphins!!! A pod of about 15-20 of them.
I was testing a lens I’m planning on taking with me to Africa – the 16-35 f/2.8L – so I quickly put that on knowing a wide angle lens would help me get the dolphins in the frame.
It’s quite a challenge driving the boat and photographing at the same time!! With the whales, I just put the boat in neutral or cut the engine and then photograph, and I only have to worry about how far the boat drifts. But the dolphins only play with a boat that’s moving so I knew I had to keep going.
Sometimes I’m a little worried because they get so close to the boat. They love to swim in the wake right behind the engine! Then then go under the boat and jump on either side, go under again, and jump in front, all while I’m travelling at about 15 knots. I was actually getting splashed by the dolphins – which is really something special 🙂
But the dolphins are super agile and fast, so there’s really nothing to worry about. They are about 7-8 feet in length, weigh 300-450 pounds, and can easily swim 30 knots.
So I have to look ahead to drive the boat and avoid logs, and then quickly look back or to the side and photograph. I don’t even try to look through the viewfinder, I just hold up my camera, aim in the general direction, and hope for the best.
They played with me for about 20 minutes! I got about 200 photos of splashes – and a few that actually had a dolphin in the frame.
Eventually I got into a place that had a lot of current and whirlpools and then a big bunch of kelp, so I had no choice but to slow down. At that point, the dolphins left me and I watched them swim off into the distance with a big smile on my face.