A video shows the dolphins frantically swimming into Heriot Bay. Screenshot of video, Aldis William Hart

VIDEO: Dolphins pursued into Quadra Island bay by Bigg’s orcas

Smaller mammals trapped in local waters for hours by the larger predators

Aldis William Hart spent roughly 40 years on the sea working on boats and he’d seen a lot.

Now retired, the Quadra Island resident was among those last week who witnessed something unusual for the area – something indeed new to his eyes.

He was in dock at Heriot Bay on May 27 when he saw a large pod of dolphins swimming frantically in the waters of the bay. Some estimates on social media have put the number at 35 to 40 of the marine mammals, but Hart thinks there might have even been as many as 60.

“I’ve seen pods of dolphins,” he told the Mirror. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

If the estimates differ, it might be because the scene was confusing. The dolphins were in Heriot Bay for several hours, agitated about something that soon became clear. They were being pursued by a small pod of orcas, who had been able to kill at least one of the dolphins.

“I saw a big male jump right out of the water and flip one of the dolphins with its tail,” Hart said.

He decided to film the interaction, with the orcas tiring out the dolphins, who were stuck in the shallow area of Heriot Bay close to the dock. The dorsal fins of the orcas looming further out in the waters were visible to people on shore. Meanwhile, the dolphins continued to swim frantically.

“They were highly energetic, and they couldn’t get out of the bay because the whales were patrolling the entrance,” Hart says.

Finally, the dolphins, getting exhausted from the pursuit, broke into smaller groups in an attempt to escape.

“They made the decision to leave the bay,” he said.

RELATED STORY: VIDEO: Seal escapes hungry orcas by climbing aboard tourist boat

The predators were identified as Bigg’s orcas. These are described as transient orcas, which differ from resident orcas by, among other things, a different dorsal fin, a tendency to travel in smaller pods and a diet consisting primarily of marine mammals as opposed to fish.

“Research suggests that Bigg’s killer whales have been genetically separated from all other killer whales for about 750,000 years,” the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website states.

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

Just Posted

Clearwater Elks taking a hit because of COVID-19

President Marnie Burnell noted the group was already hurting before the pandemic came into effect

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

YCS receives support from Interior Savings’ relief fund

Money will go toward food programs and new technology to improve operations

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read