I am sitting in a kayak, the smooth silky water a finger tip away, behind me a huge grey boulder of the shoreline towers above. Pot marked with yellowish, reddish and orangey brown lichen, with brown bull kelp tickling the rock where it plunges into the water, continuing to the depths covered in urchins and anemones. Above and the deep green trees are shrouded by fog. Ahead the fog crowds in close, sea and sky merge, in the near distance a motor boat chugs. We wait. Patient. Well mostly. The handheld radio crackles, voices break the anticipated silence, cutting across the foggy air. Orca are coming our way. The motor boat gets a little louder, the whale watch boat, they must be close. Then hidden by the mist we hear a ‘kawoof’ followed by another and another. The unmistakable sound of Orca’s breathing! In front the steady stream of breaths passes by, unseen, but distinct…
Minutes pass and all we hear is breathing Orca and the motor boat slowly passing us by. Then, to our right a tall, black dorsal fin looms and out of the mist a small group passes closer to shore, and closer to us.
The main group disappears, their blows getting fainter and with them the motor boat fades away. We are left alone. Four kayaks, five people and four Orca milling around… heaven!
Our guide drops down a hydrophone, an underwater microphone, and replacing the sound of the engine and the crackle of the radio, the wonderful calls of Orca’s echo through the air.
The mist begins to lift, bright sunlight beams through the breaks, glistening off the Orca’s backs and creating sparkles in the droplets of their breath. The world of Johnstone Strait, Vancouver Island, Canada, reveals itself, a backdrop of forested mountains, rippling calm waters and Orca surfacing in the deep blue-green sea.
This wonderful encounter was part of a kayak tour with Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures (http://www.kingfisher-adventures.com/), more adventures from this trip to follow…. Watch this space!