It was dark, but not yet totally dark on the Strait, when Jeremy our guide asks if anyone would like to go on a night paddle. I was very interested and so were 5 other adventurers.
We all quickly get our gear and load the Kayaks to the beach - quite a challenge over the slippery dark rocks down to the low tide mark. Eventually we have three double kayaks and Jeremy's single on the beach - we don our life jackets and "skirts," load into the kayaks and launch.
The water is smooth and calm reflecting the last rays of the sun as the light dies behind the mountains and there is no moon tonight. The group gathers at the Bull-kelp bed just off shore before heading out onto the Strait. It was so quiet - so calm! We head off into the darkness of the strait.
The black shadows of the mountains are merging with the velvet dark of the night. We all excitedly paddle further out into the strait - our signal fire dwindling in size on the beach behind us as the distance between us grows.
Then we hear it - the sound of whales breathing as they surface - we hear the blows of several whales, then a long silence, then another sequence of blows. We listen hard and get a fix on their direction.
We keep paddling toward the sounds of the whales, stopping every so often to listen and get our bearings.
Now the sound of the whales breathing is headed toward us. Jeremy, has us raft our kayaks together holding onto each other - bobbing in the cold water of the Johnstone Strait, in the pitch black of night, waiting and straining to hear and see.
We hear the whooshing sounds of the whale blows all surfacing within seconds of each other - then silence - then blows all louder than before.
Jeremy tells us its most likely a pod of Orca moving into the sanctuary of the Robson Bight. The group anxiety is building as we can hear these massive creatures moving toward us. Jeremy distracts us by pointing out the luminescence in the water when his hand disturbs the surface - the water lights up with a green eerie glow from tiny little creatures - plankton.
The whales blow again. Now we can hear the water rippling as they surface and breathe. They are very close. The pod splits.
The group on the left passes at a distance. The group on the right sounds so close. A loud whoosh, another and another! We can see some luminescence in the dark as the water drains from the dorsal fins of the surfacing whales lighting their white patches like ghost shapes rising up out of the water. The mist caused by the exhaling whales shows up as a fine luminescent cloud and then dissipates as if it was not there.
The whole encounter goes by very quickly as the whales continue on their way west. We sit stunned by the experience, bobbing on the still sea, thrilled by the close encounter with the whales we'd come to see.
We break apart from our raft formation and head back toward the signal fire on the beach. With every dip of the paddle the ocean lights up with a swirl of green. Each kayak has its path lit by trailing lights as it cuts through the water. We get a little closer to shore and notice a school of small fish moving quickly beneath our boats leaving streams of luminescence as they swim by. Then suddenly a large school of BIG fish goes under the kayaks chasing the smaller school, their luminescent streams weaving lights in the water.
We finally reach shore and the rest of our group comes down to help us stow the kayaks above the high tide mark. We excitedly tell the story of our Orca encounter, and we all pack it up and head to the tents to rest up for another day of kayaking.
Robert was a participant on the Orca Camp
A kayaking and camping adventure organized by Coastal Sprits of Quadra Island B.C.
return to the Orca Camp
- 97 Carry Drive S.E. Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Phone: (403) 526-1616
|Wildlife Friendly Backyard||Walk Medicine Hat||Orca Camp|
(: ---------- Webpages built and maintained by us! ---------- :)