When I'm out whalin' in my boat, I usually have plenty of company. There will be the odd research vessel, but most of the other craft are drunken recreational boaters who see a whale and aim right for it, full throttle. I mean right on top of it. The equation is as simple as it is obvious. Props + whale flesh = mortal wound. Here's the latest asshat, who repeatedly mowed down L pod. The ship's name is the Vita Bella. If you're the captain, drop me a line. I have something for you.
With all the boating activity around orcas, it's seldom a relaxing moment. Infuriating, yes, but never serene. This last time, as the residents moved off and led the drunken reprobates a mile or more away, I floated alone near Useless Bay and decided to make lunch before I headed back. With tea and soup on, I floated on the now-quiet and placid waters and perused my photos from that day. After maybe ten minutes, I heard a familiar gunshot crack: a large male, L57, surfaced right next to me. Surprised, I watched as he fed all around and under my little boat for a half an hour. I had him all to myself, and vice-versa. I lowered my hydrophone into the water. Normally, it's useless because of all the boat noise, but this time my stereo came alive with the sounds of L57 talking to his podmates. (It always astounds me that a 10,000 pound whale can sense and avoid the eighth-inch thick black hydrophone cable, but it's never been so much as brushed.) And so we fed together, he on salmon and me on Progresso chicken noodle. The moment was divine. Funny how orcas don't flee when you don't chase. With whales as with people, I guess.