Category Archives: Killer Whale

Someday There Will Be Whales

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The writer’s retreat at the Shrine ends this morning. I’ll be back home with Aki soon. But first I must try to see the whale. While I was looking at geese along the Eagle River, one of the other writers on this beach was startled by a surfacing killer whale. First she heard the whale’s exhale, a burst of water forced at high pressure through the orca’s blowhole.  She turned in time to see the whale’s black dorsal fin glisten in the sun and then disappear beneath the waters of Lynn Canal.

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I am walking the same stretch of beach where my friend saw the whale. Earlier this morning on this beach I watched two juvenile Stellar sea lions porpoise through the water, flushing three golden eye ducks to flight. There are no sea lions now and I wonder if the whale ate one of them. Last night I stood here and watched the sun set behind the Chilkat Mountains. But now, I see only a clutch of mallards fishing offshore.

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I tell myself that the important thing is that the whale was here, not whether or not I see it. Then I remember the other times I’ve seen killer whales. There were the times pods swam by as I paddled a kayak off of Marmion or Portland Islands. Off of Marmion an adult female orca swam to within 10 meters. Another time Aki and I watched a pod of them chasing king salmon just north of here. It doesn’t resolve my desire for another whale sighting. But it justifies my belief that if not today, then sometimes in the future, there will be more whales.

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Worth The Effort

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I am tired—a bit worn from trying to bust through to this beach on a little remembered, underused trail through thick brush. Aki is fine. She was small enough to slip along her own trail under the wet bushes. For me, the view we now share was worth the effort.

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We are on the backside of Douglas Island, just south of Outer Point. The tail end of the latest storm surge fights with rising high pressure and appears to be losing. Blue holes grow in the grey marine layer and we can see the mountain ridge on Admiralty Island. Aki watches a brace of juvenile sea lions swim just offshore. Since they move in a direct line northward, I assume they are chasing late arriving silver salmon. Later I will watch a male killer whale hunt silvers in Fritz Cove. But, now I’m happy to watch the clownish sea lions pulse up and drop down on their swim up channel.

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A wide beam of sunlight moves across the channel and onto the beach near where we stand and then dies out. Before it did, the light beam sparkled the ruffled sea and brought out the oranges in the exposed seaweed. I feel my tiredness and frustration fade like the sunlight, am content with the return of gray.

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