June 25, 2010

Orcas Breathing in Our Midst

Softly we sat and watched the whales about 700 yards away from us. At first we could only see white wake, their bodies like boats zooming through the water. As we waited, their dorsal fins began to loom in the distance. We followed them as they swam parallel to us west along the south side of Stuart Island, reuniting with their pod at Turn Point Light House.  It was a slow but satiating afternoon as we watched the orcas loll about the land, hugging the shore. Bright, sunny, peaceful and with a bit of wind, when it was time to go, it felt like a dream one wasn't quite ready to let go of.

A particularly fulfilling trip, we were able to see, not one, but two Bald Eagle's nests, one on Big Cactus Island and one on O'Neal Island. We even saw several eagles mid flight. Harbor seals were hulled out on rocks blending in to the backdrop. As we pulled into Friday Harbor, I wrapped up the trip by encouraging people to walk along the docks. White plumose anemones stick to the underside of the docks repelling when touched and bright yellow sunflower sea stars can be seen on wooden pilings.  Many of my favorite things to do on the island, and the things that I most highly recommend to visitors, are free. Hike along the many trails and driftwood beaches while letting the juice from fresh blackberries drip off your lips. Watch the sun set from the peak of Mt. Young, overlooking Haro Strait with the sharp snow capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains as your silent observers. If you're attentive, you may be able to make out tiny black triangles and clouds of white mist. Orcas breathing in our midst.

Lauren Sands

Naturalist

"Vote with your lifestyle choices to Save the Whales"