It’s been a fairly quiet start into 2017 for us. With lots of windy and rainy days in winter (it basically didn’t stop raining, interrupted only by some days of snow), there were few opportunities to look for porpoises. But the good news is that every time we did make it out to our study site in Whytecliff Park, we did also see porpoises. To be fair, sometimes it was just a single one…
After sightings peaked in late fall and all through December last year, we kept seeing smaller groups from January to March. Given the cold and generally quite miserable days we had to endure earlier this year, even the shortest sighting was badly needed to keep our spirits up. When field work looked like fun in summer and fall, getting through the winter months took a lot more discipline!
We were rewarded for our patience in April, when for the first time since December, we began seeing larger groups again. Excited by steady reports through porpoise.org of sightings of groups of 6 to 10 animals, we made it out to the park quite often, and with the warming sun finally up in the sky again, we could actually enjoy those sightings. Six or more hours in the field? No problem. We would not have lasted that long in January.
We are currently gearing up for some exciting new projects to expand our study of harbour porpoise, to help us answer some questions of importance for conservation efforts. The biggest question we have? Where do they come from, and where are they going? We will have more on that in summer. And who knows? There might be a few whale (porpoise) tales worth telling in between.
(The Porpoise Conservation Society is a registered charity in Canada. In Howe Sound, we study Harbour Porpoise from land to gain a better understanding of how many animals there are and how these small marine mammals use the habitat. For Whale Tales, our marine mammal observers recall the highlights of their long days in the field looking for porpoises…)