09/29/2014 02:28 EDT | Updated 09/29/2014 03:59 EDT

Sightings Of Spectacular Dolphin Superpods Boom In Vancouver Island

Whale-watching boats are reporting a boom in rare sightings of Pacific white-sided dolphins off the coast of Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands.

The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) says its members have increasingly been spotting the huge pods of 150 or more dolphins in the past month. The species is not endangered, but has not been seen frequently in the area for decades, said the group's executive director Michael Harris on Friday.

"With the world’s oceans in such trouble and whale and dolphin populations plummeting in so many places, it’s great to report the comeback of any wildlife to a particular area," he said in a statement.

"When these guys turn up, they really put on a show. The entire ocean seems to explode with life," Harris added.

Last November, two superpods dazzled boaters and ferry passengers off B.C.'s Gulf Islands.

The "lags," as they're known, have unusually large, curved dorsal fins, and distinctive colouring that looks like a racing stripe on their dorsal fin.

The average adult Pacific white-sided dolphin weighs between 300 and 400 lbs., reaches between 5.5 and eight feet long, and can live for more than 40 years.

The PWWA represents 33 whale-watching and ecotourism businesses in Washington and B.C. Check out the photos taken by some of the group's captains and naturalists:

Photo gallery Dolphin Superpod, September 2014 See Gallery

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