I like whales, but that’s not news.
Everyone on earth should like whales. Because they’re amazing and beautiful and smooth, because they sing, because a whale tongue weighs as much as a bus, and because whales aren’t just sitting around waiting for you. Whales aren’t like that.
Whales are the celebrities of the sea. Whales are running errands, falling in love, making mistakes and chasing their dreams, just like you and me, but when we see whales we all scream and take thousands of photos and talk about it for the rest of our lives. We see a whale for one minute and it changes us forever. Whales ARE whales, all of the time.
Anyone can see Beyoncé or take a photo with her but what’s it like to wake up at 2am and BE Beyoncé and have to go to the bathroom? What's it like to know that every time you've met someone that day has been the most memorable day of their life?
These are questions I would know the answers to as soon as I looked a whale in the eye. So I really wanted to see a whale. A killer whale specifically.
Last weekend we went up to the San Juan Islands to the Olympic Peninsula or to Washington or these might all be the same place. Our boat captain was Captain Matt and his life’s two-part mission to be charismatic and to find killer whales and look at them. Killer whales! He sat in the front of the boat staring through binoculars like a captain from a Wes Anderson film. I’m happy with any whales but I’d love to see killer whales from a Wes Anderson film.
The day went by really fast. And the further we went into the ocean and the smoother the water got and the more free ginger candies I ate, the more I started to realize that the ocean is gigantic. You guys, it’s huge. The ocean is just this enormous immeasurable thing deeper than ever, and in it are about eighty killer whales.
That's seventy-nine more whales than I even need to see, but still not very many.
So we didn’t see any whales but we did see how big the ocean is and isn’t that something?
As Captain Matt wrapped up our tour he did his best to convince us that we’d had an amazing time. He spent several minutes on the loudspeaker assuring us how much fun we’d had.
“Remember we saw that eagle? We all loved that. We didn't see any killer whales but remember those seals? Remember when we saw a harbor porpoise in the distance? That sure was something to see. We really did have fun today, we really did have a great, great day.”
The good news is I've had a dormant fear my entire life that some day I'll see a killer whale and it will be so great I'll have nothing else to look forward to and no reasons left to exist. A fear that seeing a killer whale is the nature-sighting equivalent of doing meth, and I'll keep looking for that high again and never find it until one day I'm just lying in a ditch whispering about orcas to myself. That fear seems legitimate.
And the other good news is it seems like there's a small chance that some killer whales might have seen us, and I hope it changed their life forever.
Have you ever seen a killer whale? Please tell me everything.
Have you ever seen the movie Blackfish? I haven't but I want to.