What A morning! I woke at 6AM to Herman running past my tent shouting ‘WHALE OUT FRONT, WHALE OUT FRONT’. I franticly jumped out of my tent and ran to the lab still in my thermals and flip flops. Everyone was gathered on the deck watching a little Humpback whale milling in Taylor Bight. He was slowly making his way around the Bight feeding just below the surface. I stepped back into the lab to grab my camera and I realized I could hear Orca vocalizing on the hydrophones. It was R Clan on the Squally Hydrophone. This was incredibly exciting as I had seen Transient (mammal eating orca) a few days previous but it was the strongest recording of the Northern Resident community (fish eaters) we had heard so far this season. It appeared they had arrived just in time to wish Herman a Happy Birthday.
The little whale appeared to pace up and down the lab gradually getting closer each time. Cohen (The golden retriever) had made his way down to the rocks below the deck to get a better look at the curious creature. Suddenly two acrobatic Sealions joined in the fun and seemed just as curious of the whale as he was of them. They were leaping around the whale as he slowly passed to and frow in front of the lab as we all stood by totally amazed by this inquisitive whale. Occasionally slapping his fluke and pecs on the water the whale displayed how much fun he was having. Cohen began to bark and this appeared to grab the little whales attention. The connection this little whale and the dogs Cohen and Neekas had silenced us all as we watched feet away from the encounter.
He became so close that we could see him gliding through the crystal clear the water right below us, displaying his pecs out beside him for all to see. He made tiny circles popping his head out the water trying to get a good look at us. “Its a whale, watching whale watchers!” Herman said and that really was what was happening. He was just as interested as we were!
As the little whale moved along the Bight we all gathered down below on the rocks as the whale made it’s way round to the shallows and Elemiah (The boat). The Sealions reappeared for more leaps and bounds that ended up in a big fluke splash from the whale as if to say ‘clear off you two!’ A few more fluke slaps later the little whale made his way out of Taylor Bight displaying his fluke for A perfect photo ID shot. I really do hope we see this happy little whale again.
All the while the R Clan Orcas were vocalizing away on the Squally Channell hydrophone and by this time everyone’s coffee was stone cold and we hadn’t even realized how cold we all were. We had all stood mesmerized by the little whale for what felt like minuets but was infact over two hours as he gazed up at us through the crystal clear water, and all before 8AM.
Words by Megan Hockin-Bennett. Pictures by Aaron Kirkpatrick & Zole.