the main voice in the video is my friend's, not mine - just because several people have mentioned it
* fair warning, there will probably be several posts coming up about our trip to nootka sound. i'll probably intersperse them with posts about crafting, etc., but be prepared for me to wax a bit poetic about nature (even more so that usual!).
The good omens started as soon as we arrived at Cougar Creek, and quickly spotted the misty blow of a humpback whale across the inlet. Actually, it could be argued that the first good sign appeared all the way on the other side of the island that morning, where i sat on the foreshore as a sea lion lazily worked his way up Discovery Passage. Nonetheless, when we pushed our kayaks out onto the water at 5:30 in the evening we had our eyes peeled for whales. Sure enough, as we paddled around the headland and into the wider channel, more spouts appeared, at least six spread out in the distance. We paddled easily in the waning late afternoon breeze, the sun creating a path of jewels shimmering on the sea surface. Directly in our path ahead was a plume of mist coming up at frequent intervals, a little closer than the others. We elected to veer slightly left and skirt around the active whale. Yet as we drew nearer it surfaced abruptly, just 100 feet ahead. It came up again in a large exhale of mist, then its back arched steeply and the tail broke the surface dripping water. It slipped below and all was quiet. We waited, unsure of the humpback's plans. Our kayaks slipped forward silently, paddles hovering just above the surface, eyes and ears alert to every bit of movement or sound. As I turned my head to check behind me it came up with a blast, about 30 feet to the right and behind. Our hearts jumped up in our throats and a swear word or two escaped our lips. The humpback continued moving away behind us and slowly we started forward again.
Not farther along and there was another spout straight ahead, but this one passed to our starboard side with less fuss. I mused that I hoped we could see the whales from our campsite, but AK assured me our destination bay was much too small and tucked away for any whales to come in. It seemed true, as we guided our boats carefully through rocks to the tiny beach where we made our camp. In the fading light we set up our tents and got to work making dinner. Then, clearly through the trees, a sound that could only be a whale blow; a resolute exhale of breath. With high tide cutting off the shoreline route we set off through the woods, over branches and under bushes, climbing moss covered bluffs in an attempt to reach the point. AK was first out of the bush, calling to us as we scrambled over the rocks. Gaining a vantage point once out in the open, we understood his jubilation. A large humpback was making its steady way in our bay, arching and diving as it went.
In the low light I struggled with my camera, knowing photos would be nearly impossible even under the brightening half moon. We waited, breathless. A rough circle of bubbles began to form on the surface, and then the gaping mouth of the whale thrust through it, pointing straight up to the deep blue sky as it swallowed a gullet-full of fish along with innumerable gallons of seawater. The whale gathered a few breaths and then repeated the process at least a half dozen more times. In our spellbound state we had barely noticed that the night had taken over, but we were reluctant to leave. Farther out along the shore two more humpbacks blew spouts, and our whale moved out to join them. The three lunge fed together by the pale light of the moon.
As we picked our way back to camp to eat dinner a haunting sound broke the stillness. The alien song of the humpback whales, a sound I can't even begin to describe, came to us through the darkness in a serenade. As we climbed into our sleeping bags, we fell asleep to the humpback's song and the occasional shotgun-like crack as a whale breached clear of the sea. Our trip had just started, but we felt welcomed into the sound with wide flukes, er, arms.
so much more to come...