I just had my dream vacation. DH and I went to Victoria, BC where we spent hours on a boat witnessing the majestic, breathtaking beauty of Orcas in the wild. I had dreamed of that moment for years and it was with tears in my eyes that I saw them swim towards us, so free and happy, jumping out and talking to each other, free to roam the hundreds of miles a day they cover when they are free.
The day before I could see the whale watching tour arriving every few hours and everyone getting off the boat had a smile in their face, I asked several groups if they saw Orcas and they said “we saw a lot of humpback whales and seals” and they seemed so happy. I wanted to see humpbacks too, but the decision to go to Victoria was based on the fact that they have a resident pod, the J pod. The J pod is part of a bigger clan of the Southern resident killer whales in the area and includes the K and L pods.
The evening before our tour I sat there, looking at the sun setting (at 9:30 pm) and begged the Gods of Whales, Neptune, San Francis of Assisi (patron Saint of animals), and all the powers that be to let me see some Orcas. I had flown almost 3,500 miles (even with my flying phobia) to be able to see them.
We had been warned that the rough weather the last couple of days had the Orcas doing Orca things in hiding and they had not seen one yet. I closed my eyes and just begged the universe for this. We were on the boat for 45 minutes, looking for them when the captain suddenly shuts the engine and says “They are coming towards us, up ahead”.
Sure enough, there they were. I could feel all the hair in my body standing on end (the cold might have something to do with that as well), there is no way to describe the joy in my heart when I saw that tall, shiny black fin cut through the water towards us. Unimpeded by walls, or tanks, just open and cold waters. When one jumped in the air and landed on its side I felt swamped with love and respect for them, so amazingly smart, so beautiful and close to each other.
I have felt a fascination for Orcas since I saw the movie “Orca, the killer whale” when I was little. The male Orca in the movie wants revenge for the murder of his baby whale who got cut out of his mother by the boat propeller or some such nonsense. The male Orca lost his baby and his mate who died from the injuries. He pushes his dead mate to the beach and I remember so clearly the sense of grief from the animal in the movie.
Ever since then, even though the whale is supposed to be the bad guy in the horror movie, I have been in love with them. While Seaworld and other parks were available to me, the idea of seeing them in a pool was utterly repellant. So my dream of watching them in the wild was born.
I could feel my husband looking at the goofy awed looked in my face and waiting for me to burst into tears. It was a close call folks, I was one fin away from ugly crying and let me tell you, there is nothing like wanting to cry from seeing something beautiful, crying from seeing a dream realized, crying because you are surrounded by nature’s almighty power.
At the end of the trip, a group of whale approached us and one flipped belly up, the startling white of its belly shinning so brightly through the water and belly up, as if asking for a petting swam beneath our boat and away.
Among the J pod that we saw is J-2 or “Granny” purported to have been born in 1911, Granny is the oldest Orca in the entire planet. I saw the oldest mother fucking Orca in the world. She is 105 years old and the bad boss of her matriarchal community. We also saw J-22 (Oreo), J-27 (Blackberry), J-34 (Double stuff), J-38 (Cookie). Obviously the scientist have a thing with pastries.
I went back home to Florida, full of happy thoughts about the world. Happy that everyone we had encountered in our trip had such love for nature and our planet and were taking so many steps to protect it and the beautiful animals that live in it.
I saw the headline on Sunday about the club in Orlando and I refused to open it. I just wanted to bask a little longer on the happiness that my dream realized had brought. I just wanted to think about whales and their society and how they live together in harmony as a family, helping one another, communicating, talking, touching and loving. I wanted to think of Granny, living in the Victoria waters with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, eating 400 lbs. of Chinook salmon a day, eating some seals and jumping out of the water to get rid of the annoying kelp that tangles on their tails. I wanted to think of that and nothing else.
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