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Sunday, July 11, 2010

7/10 The habits of whales.

I spend a lot of time looking for whales. I could watch them for hours. They are rarely where I think they should be yet I am becoming more aware of there habits and the likely places they will appear. In the end though they are where they are and they are just as likely to be waaaaaay over there as they are to suddenly appear right next to the boat.

Many years ago I went by myself to NW Trek. It was a lovely spring day and I was mad at someone and mad at myself so I went to NW Trek alone. So there! I was in a bit of a pissy mood but the drive south let the tension ease and I was excited to board the tram and see the animals. Though completely unfamiliar with NW Trek I had managed to arrive in the middle of the spring birthing for many of the parks residents. As we wound our way around the tram driver alerted us to the possibility of a new born buffalo in a draw ahead. AS we neared you could see the mother buffalo and long legged wobbly baby. It was bright orange and I was surprised at the color. It seemed that he would stick out like a sore thumb in the wild and be wolf dinner soon. The tram driver explained that the reason behind the coloring. Wolves see only in black and white and shades of gray. In Black and white the bright orange is transformed into the exact color of the grasslands the great buffalo once roamed so freely. Perfect camouflage made just for him.

Whales have the same magic camouflage. They are mostly black and shine as the water rolls off there backs. The spouts of there breath is just the same coloring as a breaking wave. They like to spend there time feeding along the shores of deep water. And along those same shores the incoming waves roll and break in perfect camouflage. IN the sun the sparkling waters hide the shine of the water pouring off their backs and in fog the spouts disappear it its depth. Even when they sleep they are hiding in plain sight. They float flatter while sleeping. Breathing much shallower breaths so the plumes of the spouts are shorter in height and hang time. Their black backs having just enough shape to allow them to look like they are part of the sea.

Day before yesterday we went back to Gooseneck Bay. We stopped there on our way north and were lucky enough to meet Dave, one of the Burnaby firefighters who bought the old cannery and is working on rebuilding it as sort of a giant family summer cabin complex. This time there was no one at the cannery. We motored into the neck of Gooseneck Bay under bright sunshine and the bay closed in around us and blocked out the wind leaving a smooth flat calm. The whales were feeding along the steep too banks of the bay. In 200 to 300 feet of water right in close to the trees. They were intently feeding, rolling, slapping, When they feed they seem to move along in slow motion. Erupting in half speed with their great mouths yawing open and folding closed as they slide back into the deep. We could hear them plainly and we sat, motor off, mesmerized as we scanned for the next surfacing. For me it is always magical.

Eventual we need to get anchored, it had been a long day so we turned the corner into the head of Goose Bay. I was pumped though and wanted to go back out. Bill was tired and hot. How often do you have whales right outside your anchorage. As soon as we were settled I gathered up some water, the binoculars, the hand held VHF and my camcorder-dinner would have to wait. I loaded fresh bait into the crab pot to drop on my way out and was off! #%$^*& the outboard wont start. I can hear the whales around the corner. I cant take the kayak cause my tennis elbow is trying to heal. Bill doesn't really want to tear into the outboard now. He is hot, tired and hungry. He climbed in anyway to try. I can still hear the whales occasionally. Eventually we gave up for dinner. Afterward Bill climbs in again to take the outboard apart- for me. I hear the motor start. Yea! The we look up. There is a seiner coming into the Bay. With their nets out. I am worried for the whales but the whales will be wary. I cant hear them any more. The seiner goes round and round and round. The sound of the whales is gone. I go to sleep disappointed and a little sad inside.

This morning we are up and out early. We have along day getting around Cape Caution. We motor around the corner from the head of the bay into the neck and there they are. One, no two. No, three. Slowly going about their business of feeding, rolling, slapping and disappearing. I could watch for hours- but we have to go. I will keep looking for whales.....everywhere. In places where they are likely to be and in places they are not. Just in case. We leave the confines of the bay and then the sound and move out into Queen Charlotte Sound. I go below to write until I hear a shout from Bill. A humpback surfaced right next to the boat. Then was gone again. I go back to writing. Think I will clean the boat today.

Love, kat

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