Thursday, April 24, 2003

Killer Whale (this one's in Alaska)

My friend Chris Robertson lives over in Grantham's Landing, which is on the other side of Howe Sound from me. We work together a lot, and one of my favourite things to do is meet with him in Horseshoe Bay at Trolls for eggs benedict, coffee and chatter over ideas, plans and projects. That's what I did this morning, taking a leisurely 8:35 boat to meet him coming off the 8:20 boat from Langdale.

If weather had names like paint swatches do, then today's was "classic west coast spring." The rain was light but persistent, a steady herring rain. The winds were calm and the sea was flat. Clouds hung low over the mountain tops and fog swirled about in little patches. On the morning boat ride to Horseshoe Bay, I had the strange sensation of expecting a killer whale to pop out of the glassy gray water at any minute.

It turns out that this could have actually happened. There used to be a pod of resident killer whales in Howe Sound, but they are long gone, chased away by the pulp mills and the leaching of copper, cadmium, iron and zinc from the old Brittania Mine. But there are lots of transient killer whales on the coast and they often travel solo, migrating constantly, feeding mostly on marine mammals like seals and sea lions. Four years ago, Caitlin saw one in the fall off Second Beach in Stanley Park, but we haven't seen one since moving here.

However, I'll have to pay more attention. A friend on the return boat at noon reports to me that an orca has been seen from our ferry in the last couple of weeks. If it's true and it's still around, that would be a thing to see. A killer whale back in the Sound, if only for a momentary snack of seal, would be a lovely sign of hope.

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