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The Pacific WildLife Foundation is a non-profit coastal and marine research and education society  that inspires an appreciation for objective scientific research and conservation of the ocean. We conduct original research, develop novel education programs, and inspire an appreciation for conservation of the ocean. 

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Pacific White-sided Dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens

The Pacific white-sided dolphin occurs throughout the north Pacific Ocean as far south as the  South China Sea and Baja California and in the ocean north of about 38oN to the Aleutians (Wilson and Ruff 1999). The Pacific white-sided dolphin was largely absent form the coastal waters of British Columbia in the 1970s until the mid 1980s when they suddenly became fairly numerous (Stacey and Baird 1991). The species has been regularly seen there and in Alaska since 1992.

Whether in large or small groups, this active and acrobatic dolphin is very noticeable. It often rides bow waves of moving boats. It makes high leaps out of the water returning to the water from aback flip or forward arching dive.

A favourite of public aquaria because of its activity, ease of training and feeding, the Pacific white-sided dolphin remains poorly known in the wild. Details about its movements, reproduction, and ecology are sketchy.

Dolphins and porpoises can be distinguished by the shapes of their rostrums (beak) and teeth. Dolphins belong to the family Delphinidae that are characterized by a distinct rostrum and conical-shaped teeth whereas Porpoises belong to the family Phocoenidae that have a rounded rostrum and spade-shaped teeth.


Brownell, R. L. Jr., W. A. Walker and K. A. Forney. 1999. Pacific white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens, Gill 1965. Pp. 57-84 in S. H. Ridgway and R. Harrison (eds.). Handbook of marine mammals: the second book of dolphins and the porpoises. Academic Press, London.

Costa, D. P. and T. M. Williams. 1999. Marine mammals energetics. Pp. 176-217 in J. E. Reynolds and S. A. Rommel. Biology of marine mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. 

Dalheim, M.E. Towell, R.G. 1994. Occurrence and distribution of Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) in southeastern Alaska, with notes on an attack by killer whales (Orcinus orca). Marine Mammal Science 10: 458-464.

Lang, T. G. and K. S. Norris. 1966. Swimming speed of a Pacific bottlenose dolphin. Science 151: 588-590.

Stacey, P. J. and R. W. Baird. 1991. Status of the Pacific white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens, in Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 105: 219-232.

Wilson, D. E. and S. Ruff 1999. The Smithsonian book of North American mammals. University of British Columbia Press, Vancouver, BC



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