We are always scanning the horizon for whales. If you see a plethora of birds on the surface scurrying about, it’s usually an indication that fish are in the area and whales are close behind. A blow amongst the birds will confirm they are around.
We have seen the whales most days but at a distance and not close enough to take pictures. I am not a photographer and my camera, well, it sucks. By the time I get it powered up, the shot is gone. I’ve tried to capture the surfacing, the feeding, the breaching but am faced with only being able to show you the following. It’s the best I can do.
At one point, my husband said, “enjoy the moment and try to remember what you see”. This is the best I can do to describe what I see. The water changes to a darker color and you can see ripples forming from the whales’ fin. If the whale is bubble feeding it will swim round and round to create a vortex of fish. Surface bubbles and a foam of white appear on the surface. Then wham! These are big creatures, with jaws wide open that stretch forever and look like the size of VW van. With one big gulp they swallow their prey. The clap of the jaw is powerful and resonates in the water. Down and then up again as they glide with a blow and move on.
For their size they are incredibly nimble in the water. It is soothing to hear the “Pppshh” from their blow, and watch them glide as they arch their back with fin appearing and then the tail as it swoops up and out with a force that propels it forward. As gently as it comes up, it goes down and under and disappears.
When they breach, they come up nose first, and then somehow do a roll, something like a “double sowcow”, over to their side and then swoop up and down with their tail flapping on the surface as the last encounter.
One minute they are there and you watch closely and then they are gone. You start scanning the horizon again and nothing as if it didn’t exist. It’s that quick, here and gone. Once you get a taste of it, you want more.
We have an excellent book on marine mammals in BC and would you believe we left it behind. My husband is very mindful and cautious in keeping a safe distance to not disturb the animals. “But if I could just get that one shot”, I say.