Thursday, August 09, 2012

Whale watching without the whales

One of the things I wanted to do in Seattle was to go to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands and see the Orcas. There's quite an industry catering to this sort of thing with numerous companies offering tours and tee shirts all centered around the Killer Whale.
You can drive north and take a ferry or fly.
I thought flying ( though pricey) would save time and add to the experience so that's what we did. 
Its quite  different from the flying I usually do.
We didn't go higher than 1000 ft and  it was bumpy and noisy, but not nearly as much as I thought it would be.
During the return leg a "plug" popped out of the fuselage and onto the floor at my feet.
Cue panicky faces all around.
Other than a rush of air and blast of noise it didn't seem very serious( it wasn't).
A Chinese guy in front to me motioned me to give it to him which I did.
He barked something to his wife who produced a tissue from her hand bag which he wrapped around the plug before handing it back. After a bit of pushing and screwing, in it went  and stayed for the duration of the flight. 
I know its blurred but we were bouncing around and the telephoto lens I put on the camera to shoot out the window couldn't cope with the  the foot and a half of distance.
When we landed and pointed it out to the pilot his reaction was " Hmmmm ......, plugs were popping out again huh?"
As I said earlier the plane flew pretty low and everyone spent the first 10 minutes snapping away but that got old pretty fast.
Fast forward to the boat and the whale watching........
There certainly was a lot of wild life and every sighting had crowds to the side snap, snap, snapping away.
All very nice but after 2 hours of seals and eagles everyone was a bit bored and cold.
Where were the Orcas?
At the 2 hour mark the boat sped up  to close in on a dot in the distance.
It appeared.
It disappeared.
We sped up.
We slowed down.
Every boat in the area converged on this lone little minke whale.
Sighs of relief from the guides, crew and Biologists on board.
I'd suspected that we'd be having a a tough time when on arriving at the dock I'd asked if they'd had much luck seeing Orcas over the last couple of days.
"Captain has that information sir"
Not a good sign.
The Biologist on board crowed that it was such an amazing piece of luck to see the elusive Minke.
Problem was everyone had come to see the not so elusive ( according to all the advertising, tee shirts and stuffed toys anyway) Orca.
Despite our lack of Killer Whale success it was a good day out.
The coastline was beautiful and the weather couldn't have been better.
I'm on the tail end of a mad dash across Brazil ending in a 3 hour drive between Recife and Natal.
I got some interesting pictures and will post as and when I get a chance to sort through them.
Tomorrow I fly back to the US, layover in Detroit and head to Helsinki via Amsterdam.
I'm going to be bushed!
Stay well everyone.

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