03 April 2009

at sea in search of whales

i took this picture, about five and a half minutes after i picked my jaw up off the deck of the boat...

when a friend plans a "whale watching" outing, it sounds really cool. (i mean, there's a comment box below. go ahead and try to name a cooler outing). and when you get on the boat, you don't know if you'll see a whale or a dolphin or really anything. but you go anyway. you go because the chance of seeing a whale in the wild, on its turf and its terms, is more than worth an equal chance no whale comes alone (and they sell booze on board which would more than make up for spending three to four fruitless hours rocking away at sea). i mean, if it wasn't, i'd just jump on the freeway, head on down to sea world, and look shamu right in the eye. but it's not so much the whale as the whale in its home.

and lemme just tell you how much it took the wind out of my lungs the first time i saw the above humpback arch its back high, dive below the surface, and flip up its tail. i never even reached for the camera, nary a thought to capturing the sight of it on film, because it didn't matter. seeing that whale out in the middle of the ocean was nothing short of extraordinary. it was only then i discovered that whales are a bit on the showy side (i mean, how could they not be? this is southern california, after all), and they return to the surface to take a breath and satisfy their curiosity of us, in intervals that run anywhere from five to 20 minutes, and i'd get another shot at that perfect shot.

the best part is that i've been high on nature all week, and i don't even like nature. i mean, i love nature in theory, i love preserving nature and sharing the world with nature, and i really love seeing animals in their natural habitat (except for bugs, snakes, and any creepy hairy thing that might have rabies), but i don't like being dirty, or sleeping on the ground, or being cold, or eating from a dirty pan over an open fire, or spending the night with only a thin layer of nylon separating me from lions and tigers and bears.

so i guess what i'm trying to say is that while it'll likely be snowing in hades before you'd find me camping or recommending any such excursions in nature (unless we're talking about a cabin with hot water and appropriate amenities), i'm pretty sure there isn't a soul on earth who shouldn't spend an afternoon at sea in search of whales.


1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing how seeing the whales in person makes you realize that you can see videos and endless photos of them, but none of that really captures what they're like or what it's like to see them in person. I'm still planning to go at least once a year to experience that magic. I'm so glad you were down for going!