September 10, 2012

Too Many Whales to Count, Too Awestruck to Care!

Around 10:40 AM this morning we received a Southern Resident Killer Whale report: members of J, K, and L pod headed north in Haro Strait. We were extremely excited yet a bit uneasy knowing they were headed for Active Pass (Canada). Luckily enough by the time we boarded and headed out for the strait the whales had turned around. It couldn’t have been more perfect timing.

As we made our way into the gut of the strait, reaching a center point between Stewart, Moresby, Sidney, and Henry Island (48°38.51N 123°14.37W), we began to see the leaders of the pods headed in our direction; all we had to do was sit and wait. As the whales began to pass our boat we realized they were coming in all directions so our best option was to cut the engine and simply watch. No words can describe this experience, but I’ll try my best to summarize.

It was one of those moments in time where everything became frozen. The boat and the people were frozen. The sky was frozen. Other boats on the water were frozen. The islands off in the distance were frozen. The only thing moving around us were the whales. It grew completely silent. The only thing you could hear was the sound of your own heart pounding through your chest and the exuding exhalations of the whales as they broke the water's surface. At this point in time, the only thing that seemed real, were the whales.

We were lucky enough today, to watch members of all three pods swim past our boat. They moved across our bow, across our stern, and even alongside us. They were also chattin' up a storm on the hydrophone, some of the best vocalizations to date! It seemed as though several of them had swam past us just to say hi and at one point a female and calf stopped right alongside our boat and simply sat there logging at the surface.

Man, what day!

Naturalist Tara and Captain Mike! San Juan Safaris