Subject: Cetacean Sightings off Nova Scotia

Center for Oceanic Research and Education (
Mon, 10 Aug 1998 13:41:32 -0400

Dear Zachary -

The cetaceans you sighted off of New Brunswick were very possibly Atlantic
white-sided dolphins, or possibly a species called the White-beaked
dolphin.  They are a species that prefers colder, inshore waters off of
Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador.  They occasionally will wander south,
and we sometimes will see them in the early spring off New England.

Fin and minke whales are very common there, as well.  Fin whales are very
large, up to 70 feet and 50 tons, they have a tall, thin blow or spout that
reaches up 20 feet off the water's surface. The blow is visible for many
miles.   Minkes are much smaller, only reaching 20-25 feet maximum, and
because of their smaller size, the blow is usually not evident.

The large triangular fins were most likely basking sharks!  They are a huge
shark species, up to 40 feet, but are completely harmless in that they have
no teeth!  They filter zooplankton from the water, just like the biggest
fish in the ocean - the whale shark.   We commonly see basking sharks off
New England, and they are known to occur of Nova Scotia, as well.

Thank you for your inquiry!


Lisa Foerster
Director, CORE
> From:
> To:
> Subject: Sightings
> Date: Sunday, August 09, 1998 2:03 AM
> Spent some time on Sea Breeze cruising up to St. John's, New Brunswick
> and noted lots of animals.  Believe I saw white sided dolphins swimming
> along side the ship but not sure if we saw Fin or Minke whales in
> distance?  Also saw large triangular fins in water - was this a great
> white shark?  I was thrilled to see so many animals.  Would love to hear
> confirmation of species.  Thanks.