12/01/2015 07:28 EST | Updated 12/01/2015 07:59 EST

Short-Beaked Common Dolphins Seen Alive For 1st Time In B.C.


Brian Gisborne

A species of dolphin that's never been seen alive in B.C. before has been spotted flourishing off the coast of Vancouver Island.

Two pods of short-beaked common dolphins were seen just outside the Juan de Fuca strait in September.

Previously, three carcasses were found washed up on B.C. shores in 1953, 1994, and 2011.

(Photo: Brian Gisborne)

John Ford, who spearheads the cetacean research program for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said the animals are common on the West Coast, but don't normally venture north of California.

"It's very probable that the occurrence was related to warm temperatures, the so-called blob of warm water, and an El Nino weather pattern," Ford told The Huffington Post B.C.

"Looking back, those early sightings in 1953 and 1994 both coincided with El Nino," Ford said. "It's something that we might see more and more of as that trend continues."

(Photo: Brian Gisborne)

B.C. has long been home to a variety of marine life, including dolphins, but Ford said the short-beaked species stand out.

"They have this beautiful pigmentation, a yellow colouration," he explained. "They're just a little different and a little more striking."

Despite unusual weather driving their appearance, Ford said the dolphins' presence isn't cause for concern.

"It's good in that it shows there's a lot of diversity in species off our coast, but I don't think there's any threat to our local species."

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