Cetaceans and Sea Turtles of BC
British Columbia’s waters are home to numerous species of whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles. From our rugged west coast to our sheltered inlets and island archipelagos, our marine habitat supports a rich diversity of invertebrates, fish, sea birds, sea turtles and marine mammals.
Many species of cetaceans spend most or all of their time in B.C. waters, including killer whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, harbour porpoises, and minke whales. Others, like humpback whales, grey whales and fin whales, migrate through our coastal waterways in the summer, sometimes staying well into the winter months. Offshore, the deep waters of the North Pacific Ocean support many other species, such as sperm whales, blue whales, oceanic dolphins and beaked whales.
Leatherback sea turtles migrate across the Pacific Ocean to our coasts every summer to feast on blooms of lion’s mane jellies and moon jellies. Other sea turtles are less common on our coasts, but some occasionally stray into our cooler waters, and we expect to see more sea turtles as the world’s oceans become warmer.
For help determining which species you may have encountered, see our Identifying Species page.
Species identification and natural history of cetaceans and sea turtles of B.C.: