Harbor Porpoise Found on Toleak Beach

We’ve been surveying this section of the Washington coast for approximately two years. We do it year-round every month and in every kind of weather; wind storms, rain, and snow.

Harbor Porpoise

We’ve been surveying this section of the Washington coast for approximately two years. We do it year-round every month and in every kind of weather; wind storms, rain, and snow. Occasionally in sunshine. Of course, like most aspects of life, this routine was interrupted by our recent COVID crisis. However, I do feel a much stronger appreciation for the outdoors and the healing it provides with this forced interruption despite finding the occasional sad find cast up on the beach. In this case a Harbor Porpoise.

Harbor Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) are the smallest of 22 cetaceans recorded in the Salish Sea and are probably one of the few that are resident year-­‐round. Excluding the Arctic, their distribution extends throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Their numbers in the waters of Puget Sound declined steeply in the 1970s, but their population has increased in recent years.

Phocoena phocoena vomerina is the subspecies found in the North Pacific, including the Salish Sea. Their subdued coloration is typically dark gray to brown dorsally and shades into white ventrally. Weighing less than 220 pounds and spanning less than 6 feet long, Harbor Porpoise sit low in the water and barely brush the water’s surface to breathe. Observers rarely glimpse more than their back and small, uniformly colored dorsal fin, which has a longer leading than trailing edge. They can be confused with Dall’s Porpoise (Phocoenides dallii), small, stockier porpoises that are black with white flanks along the belly and white-tipped dorsal fins and flukes). They could also be mistaken for Pacific White-­Sided Dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), which have similar gray backs but complex white stripes on their sides, a bi-­‐colored and more curved dorsal fin, and more exuberant, social behavior, generally traveling in larger groups and often leaping from the water completely.

Support

Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.

Apparent Increase In Visitation

This trip was also unusual in that for the first time there was more than one car at the trailhead. A lot more. However, while on the beach we actually only saw a handful of tents near the north end of our survey beach; I can only assume that means there were quite a handful of campers dispersed along the coast.

On the one hand, that’s encouraging, the more people get out in nature the more they’re likely to want to protect what we have left. The downside is that these remote beaches can only support so many visitations before they start to be affected in a negative way.

We’ve been surveying this section of the Washington coast for approximately two years. We do it year-round every month and in every kind of weather; wind storms, rain, and snow.

Member of the following

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

twitter feed

Follow the team’s latest news and social feeds here. You’ll also find links to articles on the latest developments regarding citizen-science and the conservation of our oceans. 

We also use this feed for updates from the field as we pursue our own science and the occasional short video clip.

And please, feel free to join in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you’re up to as well. 

[custom-twitter-feeds]

Latest Instagram

Theresa is gazing at sunset while beachcombing. The clouds added a wonderful touch of drama to the scene. ...

Theresa is looking downstream at Murhat Falls. This waterfall is easy to drive to and an easy hike in the Olympic National Forest. ...

Skate Creek runs alongside Forest Road 52 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This was just one of the many photographic sites that can be accessed from the road. ...

Murhut Falls and its pool are nestled in the Olympic National Forest, not far from Dosewallips State Park. ...

Winter storm making landfall just south of Cape Flattery. This part of the Pacific Northwest can see some powerful storms. ...

An unnamed creek and a small waterfall that you can find along the Steam Donkey Loop trail, which starts within the Dosewallips State Park of Washington ...

Footsteps and a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. ...

Early morning sunshine filtered through the trees and reflected off the upper portion of Murhut waterfall ...

Theresa sitting under Murhut Falls, enjoying the beauty of the forest. ...

Found this small dam in the hills behind our camp on Hood Canal. At one time, it appears to have been used by a homestead to hold water during the summer months. #washingtonstateparks ...

A photographer takes a photo and becomes the subject himself. ...

“How We Survived a Slight Derailment on Tower Rock” was published on our website. You'll find a gallery of all photographs in the article towards the bottom of the page. I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments. You can find our URL in the bio. ...

I’m not the right person to be making any kind of judgment call here, I have neither the training nor education in this field but I can say that from what I observed everyone on the beach appeared to be practicing Leave No Trace methods and the benefits of these stewards were more beneficial than any negative impact they had by camping on the beach.

Please share this:

More to explore

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.