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‘Where am I?’: Squamish paddler has magical moment with dolphin pod

Local veteran paddler surprised by close encounter with 20-plus Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Even for veteran paddler Kevin Trotter, it was an incredible sight. 

Squamish's Kevin Trotter was doing his usual training route on his stand-up paddleboard (SUP) Wednesday morning before work—from the Mamquam Blind Channel, past Squamish Terminals and to the log sort and back—when a pod of dolphins was suddenly coming straight for him.

"Oh my God. They are coming right at me," Trotter recalled thinking.

"This is going to be something."

When he spoke to The Squamish Chief a few hours later, he said there were more than 20 dolphins.

After seeing the video, B.C. marine scientist Anna Hall confirmed that they are Pacific white-sided dolphins.

Trotter said he watched the dolphins swim in front of him for a while, then they came back toward him; this time, they swam right under his board.

"They generated quite the wake," he said, adding he hadn't seen that many dolphins that close up before.

Luckily, Trotter is a veteran paddler; he is a guide and instructor and is on the board of the Squamish Paddling Club. He paddles multiple times a week, year-round. 

So, he was able to avoid taking a swim with the dolphins.

The dolphins then swam in Howe Sound toward Shannon Falls, swimming back and forth for a bit.

For Trotter, the whole scene was like out of a Disney movie.

"You have got a bunch of sea lions doing the same thing. And a whole bunch of birds—migrating ducks—landing, and it is like, ‘Where am I?’" Trotter said. 

"It was definitely the African Lion Safari of my childhood," he said with a laugh.

Safety first

Trotter stressed that safety always comes first when he is out on the water. He keeps the marine life and his safety top of mind. 

"Definitely keeping my distance from them and not paddling or chasing towards them for sure," he said, adding he always considers the conditions when he paddles.

"Being mindful of your surroundings. When you're paddling around big animals like that. You need to have a plan.”

Of course, he also always has his SUP leash on and personal flotation device (PFD).

He advises anyone interested in getting out on the water to join the Squamish Paddling Club.

"Our programming helps to get people out on the water to have experiences like that," he said.

~With a file from Alanna Kelly/Glacier Media