Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Oh My Greatness"

This morning I woke up on the west side of San Juan Island. The sun was shining and the sky mostly clear. I am camping at San Juan County Park, the most beautiful place to camp on the island which has the most beautifully dramatic sunsets of orange and red. Just sitting, I could see the quick appearance of a black dorsal fin. Before going ape shit, I waited to see it again. I then went ape shit!

I yelled "Orca!" and grabbed my camera bag. I started to run forward and realized there were tents and other campsites in my way, so had to modify my path. There were many orcas going by. I am fairly certain they were a part of the 'J' pod, who just had a newborn join their family this week. Although they were a little offshore, I could see the more yellow coloring on the baby orca, since the white spots take time to lighten. So cute!

For over two hours the orcas came by the park, a few at a time. At first they were just traveling by, but then we got to see some displaying fishing behavior which included tail slaps, breaches and spy hops.

There was a women behind me who explained "Oh my greatness" when she first saw the orcas herself, and I thought, what a perfect way to describe this experience. Campers were bonded over seeing these magnificent creatures, educating each other about the tidbits they knew. A little girl kept screaming out "whales!" for others to hear so every one had the chance to experience them.

I even spotted a research boat and "Tucker", a black lab who sniffs out whale poo to be collected and analyzed. (Orca poo smells like sea weed! And it is green and slimy and liquidy looking.)  What an amazing way to start the day!