August 1, 2009

Songs of the Orcas

They say that there is a first time for everything and I believe it. While our orcas do not sing the way that humpback whales do, they can certainly make some beautiful sounds. Of course, they also make some rather strange sounds that resemble razzes.

This was an evening of magic, courtesy of our Southern Resident Killer Whales. As the whole J pod family plus some tumbled and rolled along through the waters, we could identify one individual after another. The calves waved their tails and the adults cartwheeled around. There was gambolling and splashing and big beautiful orcas everywhere around the MV Sea Lion.

The highlight for me though, was when J1 "Ruffles" and his side of the family floated to the top and one of them vocalized above water. At first I thought one of the boys that was standing in the bow of the boat was making rude noises, but soon Capt. Pete stuck his head out of the wheel house and exclaimed that the whales were vocalizing. Those razzberry noises took on a whole new meaning at that point and instantly became crystalline notes.

A grand finale of orcas moved across our bow then, with multiple blows and tail slaps and a big cartwheel right in front of us. We waved farewell to the indulgent giants and motored home in the afterglow of a stunning sunset and a magical, musical night spent with orcas.

So, from all of us at San Juan Safaris to all of you music lovers out there, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!
~Tristen, Naturalist

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