A few lucky boaters in Whidbey Island’s Penn Cove near Coupeville got quite the show when a common dolphin was spotted splashing in the afternoon on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Common dolphins are not native to Puget Sound. They prefer warmer climates like California. However, a couple of pods came up to Washington in the summer of 2016 and one pod decided to stay, said Alisa Lemire Brooks of the Orca Network. Lemire Brooks coordinates whale and other marine mammal sightings for the network.
The dolphin seen in Penn Cove is a male named Cinco. He has been seen with two other dolphins before in south Puget Sound but recently was spotted alone further north, she said.
“He was so playful,” Thom Vader said.
Vader said he and his wife, Rhonda Maynor, jumped in their boat after a neighbor told them about the creature. Vader said they saw the dolphin swimming and jumping alongside their boat for a while and “one of them seemed to be intentionally splashing Rhonda.”
Despite being soaked, Maynor managed to snap a few pictures of the playful creature. “It was so clear you could see him under the water,” Maynor said.
The couple said they have never seen dolphins during the 40 years they have lived in their house near the Captain Whidbey.
“It’s been a great summer for marine mammals,” Vader said, adding that he’s seen transient orcas twice and harbor porpoise. Vader said the dolphin seemed interested in the mussel floats at Penn Cove Shellfish.
Tim Jones, operations manager at Penn Cove Shellfish, said he and his crew also saw the dolphin.
“I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never seen a dolphin in this cove,” said Jones.
He was on the beach when a neighbor told him and the crew about the sight. He thought it must have been a Dall’s porpoise, which are common to the area, when he first heard the news. Dall’s porpoises have distinctive black and white markings.
Jones said the dolphin was following boats back and forth and jumping out of the water.
“It was like an episode of ‘Flipper,’” Jones said.