Orcas and Others in the Wild

There seems to be a correlation between the state of emotions of the observer and the proximity of whales.  I learned this years ago, when I was observing the wild whales and dolphins in the inland passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia.    

In the wild, orcas simply did not come around or come close when the observer was angry, upset, frustrated, unhappy…  When the same observer was calm and happy, the whales did come around.  I spent 5 weeks one summer in a very angsty time of my life perched on a rocky bit of a small, uninhabited island in view of the northern end of Vancouver Island. There was at least one pod of orcas that spent a lot of time in that area. But they didn’t approach our location during the day. The only time any of the resident orcas came near was at night when we were sleeping. 

Several nights, we were visited by a youngster and a larger one, who came into the cove alongside our campsite. It was as if they were exploring, cruising along the coast. Once, waking to the distinctive sound of their breathing, I leaped up and ran out to the end of the rock just in time to see them go by. The rock was a big round boulder that offered no gentle incline into the water, but just dived straight down into the bottom, maybe 30 feet deep. The water was crystal clear, and in daylight we could see to the bottom, to see the sea cucumbers, and giant urchins moving across the rocks and sand.

That night it was very dark, and I could not actually see the whales.  But the phosphorescence in the water lit up briefly, disturbed by their passage.  Just as I got to the edge of the rock, the small one came up right there, blew, and departed, a spectral-blue ghost in the water, a comet of fading phosphorescence following its passage.  It was maybe 5 feet from where I stood. 

Even 45 years later, it is one of the most magical moments of my life!

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