Other Matters: Whaling

Rifftides has been more or less dormant the past few days, for good reason. You can’t blog and herd whales at the same time. Well, truth be told, we weren’t herding, just watching. Several Ramseys and other folks from various parts of the world watched orcas, also known as killer whales, off the coast of British Columbia and Washington State. Choppy waters south of Vancouver had the prow of the boat airborne and returning to the surface in a series of hull-shuddering slaps before the waters calmed just as we encountered two family groups of orcas. They were transient whales, our guide told us, passing through the Strait of Georgia where it meets Puget Sound. Not part of either family but tagging along was a magnificient young male with a six-foot dorsal fin. He swam apart from the families, tolerated but not welcomed by them.

Male Orca

This mother and her calf were part of one of the families.

Orca Mother And Child

We spent several minutes watching a group of sea lions. Part of the diet of 0rcas, they showed no interest in moving off the spit where they had sought rest and refuge.

Sea Lions 1

Sea Lions 2

The orcas surfaced singly or in groups to take in air.

Lone Orca

They submerged for minutes at a time to feed or, perhaps, to evade the attention of pesky whale-watching boats full of humans. As we saw the speed and power of those beautiful animals, we understood why the sea lions elected to stay on their little stretch of sand and rock.

orca breachingNone of our transient killer whales breached and gave us a show like this. They seemed intent on their journey. Being so near our two whale families and their big male follower was satisfaction enough, thanks to the skillful seamanship of Captain Bryan and the knowledge of our naturalist, Joan. There are several whale watch outfits sailing out of the Vancouver area, but Vancouver Whale Watch was ours and they gave us a splendid day among the orcas.

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    • Doug Ramsey says

      Right, André. As we point out in the Rifftides preamble in the right column, This blog is founded on Doug’s conviction that musicians and listeners who embrace and understand jazz have interests that run deep, wide and beyond jazz. In the case of the whale story, “deep” is the key word.

  1. Светлана says

    What an enjoyable story, Doug! Especially I like the part with ‘several Ramseys’. It’s so nice!

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing your adventure, Doug. I had a similar thrill on a Lindblad cruise ship off Santiago a few years ago. We followed a pod of blue whales, and one of them obligingly breached for us. Amazing that a creature that size could heave his entire body several feet out of the water. I was playing on the ship with Dick Sudhalter’s quartet, so jazz and nature were a natural combination that day.