Archive for August, 2012

…in the absence of whales

End of July, Early August

For the last few days of July, and the first few days of August the Southern Residents made fleeting appearances in the Salish Sea, and now it appears they are at it again. I was beginning to rely on the constant comfort I had knowing that the whales could pass the lighthouse at any time…It makes everything during the day so much more exciting when there is the prospect of whales. One good thing that has come from the whales’ drawn out absence is that I have been able to re-focus my appreciation on the beauty that is San Juan Island.Today I have directed my focus to the ever-majestic Olympic Mountains. The sun is shining down on the snowy peaks that tower above the Strait of Juan de Fuca’s blue-green waters. The view in front of me is something most seen on the front of postcards, and although there may not be orca whales in my midst, I am constantly surrounded be the natural beauty of the Salish Sea and the San Juan Archipelago.

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Close Enough to Touch

Reflecting on July…

Often when orca whales pass Lime Kiln Lighthouse they are just cruising by, traveling either north or south, most likely in search of Chinook salmon. No matter how often these “passbys” occur, they are always exciting, especially if you have been waiting for the whales to swim your way all day. But every now and then there are the special occasions, that have all the qualities of a dream, when one or two, sometimes even 20, orca whales glide through the kelp beds just beyond one’s reach…These moments, even after being in the presence of orcas for almost 4 months, never fail to lose their eerie luster…My first “close” encounter with the Southern Resident Orcas was earlier this summer. L Pod had finally returned to the Salish Sea, and I was especially eager to have an encounter with their newest member, L113.  Almost all 40 members passed the lighthouse, but about 5 came around the corner out of Deadman’s Cove unbelievably close to the shoreline. L41, Mega and two other females along with L113 and mom L….. It took my breath away to see them so close. It seemed as if I could reach out and almost touch them. The animals crisscrossed back and forth in the water, and the new calf lunged through the water in the middle of all of them. As they passed the lighthouse they veered into Lime Kiln Bay. At first it appeared that they were only frolicking in the kelp beds, but a few tail slaps, one breach, and a spy hop later, I was getting the inkling that this was no ordinary play session. After watching the group of whales behavior for at least 20 minutes I started to think that I was actually witnessing a lesson on foraging, catching Chinook 101 if you will? Whether or not this was actually what the whales were up to, it was an amazing encounter. And still is one of my favorites of the summer.


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