On a summer day a sport fisherman trolling for salmon in Stephens Passage near Juneau is visited by an unusual animal for northern Southeast Alaska - a Pacific white-sided dolphin. The six-foot-long dolphin is right beneath his bow, jumping out of the water and spinning, playing in the wake created by the bow of the boat.
Pacific white-sided dolphins are fairly common in the Gulf of Alaska and are most often seen by boaters in southern southeast off Ketchikan or around Dixon Entrance. They prefer deeper water than the Dall's porpoises and harbor porpoises more commonly seen in the inside passage. They are fast swimmers, common bowriders, and very playful and acrobatic. Pacific white-sided dolphins travel in close-knit pods, and have been observed caring for sick or injured individuals. They form groups of several hundred animals, and use cooperative foraging techniques to catch schooling fish and squid. Like this one, they can be very sociable with people and other marine mammals. They are often seen in the company of Dall's porpoises and other dolphin species. They can be found as far north as the Aleutians but rarely venture into the Bering Sea.