On August 1st, we were anchored in a private bay. The sun was up and the skies were clear. This was going to be a very fine day but we could not imagine how extraordinary it would become.
It was the Captain’s birthday and I had thought about making a card, lighting a birthday candle or making a nice breakfast. I decided on the breakfast, it would last longer.
We soaked up the sun, talked about the night sky we had enjoyed; shooting stars and the sheer beauty of it all. After breakfast, we then took to the kayaks and made our way to the end of the inlet, poked around the shoreline, made note of bear signs, found a thick mossy hill and soaked up more of the day.
It would have been around two in the afternoon as we were paddling to the boat when I spotted fins and a lot of them. Orca! I shouted at Captain. This was not something I wished to encounter, they could decide to become aggressive. So far, they were staying closer to the shoreline area so we continued to make our way to the boat. As we did so we watched and discovered they were not Orca but whales!
What kind? That question has yet to be answered. From what I can determine they may be Pilot whales but I am still unsure. Once I have a better look at the pictures I took I may be able to identify them. They were greyish white with a bulbous head and dark to light dorsal fins.
Once we were back on the boat we watched as they put on the most amazing display over the next 10 hours!
Originally, we thought they were coming into feed and then would leave. We saw this at a previous bay when Orca’s had come in. As the hours passed it became something else entirely. It was methodical, structured, coordinated and what can only be described as teaching. It was a classroom and we were witnessing a once in a lifetime event.
I counted nine whales in all but possibly ten and they moved together in pairs and only occasionally would there be a lone whale at the end of the procession.
Up they would rise out of the water, all in pairs, blowing air almost in unison. Back and forth along the shoreline, up, down, tail slapping, pectoral fin slapping. Then out into the bay, swinging back in an arc toward the shoreline again. Before reaching the shore, they created a circle and circled several times, then submerged. This continued hour after hour, same routine and usually each whale with a partner.
After several hours, we placed the kayaks back into the water, paddled a short distance away from them and then allowed the kayaks to drift. They were aware we were there and made their way over, going around and under us. One rose out of the water as if to take a good look and then slipped easily below the kayaks. Large ghostly shapes floated under us.
Time to let my breath out.
Captain said in all his years sailing he has never witnessed nor heard of whales staying in one small location and repeating the same patterns over and over for hours on end. We went back to the boat but after five hours we decided to go out once more in the kayaks. Quite suddenly things changed. The whales took themselves across the bay to the far shore and a few of them slapped their tales hard as they left. Captain said it would seem they are sending us a message, go back to the boat and we did and they returned.
They stayed until after ten o’clock that night and then were gone. The classroom instruction had ended.
Later, when the inky blackness of night had taken hold and the sky was once again a mass of glittering light, I looked down at the water and said “look, look, the night sky!” it was being reflected, the Big Dipper was clear as it was in the sky. Breath, just breath……..
One never knows how the day will unfold and it did as a wondrous present for the Captain.