Mitlenatch Island
Here is your typical “there was a dolphin here just a second ago” nature photo.

Like most parents, we take full use of the kid friendly attractions in our city. We have annual memberships to a couple of them which is a double edged sword thing…On one hand annual memberships are an affordable way to visit some high quality, educational activities. On the other hand, regardless of how excellent the local attraction is, only a kid can truly appreciate and enjoy visiting the same thing over and over and over and over. While the adult reaches the  ‘curled up in the fetus position crying “Not _______(insert activity name here), not again, I just can’t take it”‘ stage pretty soon.

We’ve been on a break from the Vancouver Aquarium for a while, as such it was a pleasure to visit it again during the waning days of the Christmas holiday. Even more exciting was that we did some things and attended some shows that aren’t on my son’s typical ‘prescribed’ route around the place.

It was during the dolphin show that we learned about I confess, the geek inside me got excited. was set up by local scientists to track marine animals by gathering observations made by ‘normal’ people like you and I. They are interested in Cetaceans…. which, is officially my new word of the week. It seems to mean, “whales, dolphins and porpoises”, but they are including turtles too, I guess so, that they don’t feel left out.

When we were on our New Years Cruise we spotted dolphins both ways. So when I got home from the aquarium A. and I excitedly got to figuring out what it was we saw. (Ok, I admit it, I was excited. A. was highly ambivalent… Which in turn made me super excited in that crazed “Oh, this is going to be so educational for you!” way that Mothers turn on when you’re least expecting it, or eating a snack in A’s case.

Our dolphins turned out to be harbour porpoises. Which I gather is not at all like finding “No name brand coke” in the supermarket when you were looking for a coke-a-cola. (I’m envisioning how many biologists I just offended 🙂

We recorded our sightings and within an hour or so got an email from a real live person thanking us for our sighting and saying that they have been getting a few reports of porpoises in that area recently so there must be a new school in town.

Spurred on by this, I released my inner geek and created a “Marine Animal Sighting” clipboard for the boat. I printed and laminated these handy reference sheets to help us identify our species and put them inside. Then I typed out the questionnaire that walks you through when you report a sighting so that we can make sure we answer all the questions as well as we can.

If you’re out on the water in the Pacific North West, and interested in signing up too then I encourage you to give it a try. Help some scientists and learn a little bit more about our  ‘Sistah’s with flippa’s.’ (and brothers too!)

Click here for the link to create an account.

Click here for the link to the species guide sheet.

Click here for my version of their questionnaire so you can capture the info.

And then, all you do is copy that info into their website under “report a sighting” when you have one.

Good luck!

P.S: No one has asked me to talk about this. I just think that this is a good cause.




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Cruising With A Porpoise.
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