Excitement in an Instant: The Dall’s Porpoise

A Dall's Porpoise surfacing.

A Dall’s Porpoise emerges from the depths to swim alongside the ship.


The Dall’s Porpoise is a master of surprise. One moment, you’re at the head of a ship, motoring through the dark waters of one of Alaska’s deep underwater canyons, and then in an instant these magnificent creatures appear.

While observing some rather distant Humpback Whales aboard the Northern Song, a small pod of these porpoises decided that we were interesting enough to travel with for a few minutes, and put on a rather playful show for our group.



My first observation was that they look quite like Killer Whales in many ways, though much smaller, and have since read that they are sometimes confused with young Killer Whales. The Dall’s Porpoise is a meaty, muscular porpoise with a small head. They rival their Killer Whale cousins in speed, with the ability to swim up to 55 kilometers per hour. As such, they were easily able to match the speed of the Northern Song, and glided through the waters on the bow of the ship.

Swimming upside down, sideways, and just about any other way one might think of, I found these porpoises quite impressive. They rarely jump out of the water. Instead they partially breach to get air, creating a “rooster tail” in their wake. Photographing these animals was difficult at first, but after a minute or so I was able to find a bit of a rhythm.


Dall's Porpoise surfacing for air.

A Dall’s Porpoise surfacing to get air while swimming alongside the ship.


In the photograph above, I was able to capture it during one of its partial breaches, while it was above the plane of the water but still submerged. The Canon 6D Mark ii, that was so graciously lent to me to test out from Allen’s Camera, worked phenomenally well. It was a dark, overcast day, and the low light capabilities with a high shutter speed worked very well!

My short experience with the Dall’s Porpoise was definitely one to remember. It tested my skills as a photographer, left me in awe of its beauty, and reminded me of the importance of these kinds of short encounters we sometimes have throughout life. It does not always take a large amount of time to have a large impact on things. Sometimes, it’s the fleeting moments that mean the most.



As always, I hope this latest blog finds you all well. As the holiday season approaches, Wildside Nature Tours and I wish you the happiest of holidays. We’re gearing up for a wonderful new year, our 25th year! We look forward to bringing you some exciting new things, and more of the photographs and stories you already enjoy. Have a great week everyone!



Powered by Facebook Comments