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Black and White

06-09-2017

Crew, Safari Endeavour

Splash!

Wait, was it a splash or a wave? No, it was definitely a splash

“…But a splash from what?” I ask myself.

Be sure. Don’t get too excited until you’re positive. No, I’m certain. Yes, it is a black and white. It’s an ORCA!

I call this last word out over the radio triumphantly, trying of course to sound nonchalant and pretending like spotting killer whales is an everyday occurrence for me.

No big deal. Except it is a big deal! Not only is this the Safari Endeavour’s first orca of the season, but it’s also one of the few I’ve ever seen.

Orca in Alaska

I’m on wildlife watch up on the bridge. A task that is both exhilarating and incredibly daunting. With binoculars glued to my eyes, I constantly scan for animals.

I search the water for orcas, harbor seals, sea lions, otters and humpback whales. The shores could be hiding mountain goats, wolves, moose and bears, while bald eagles, gulls, puffins, and arctic terns crisscross the skies.

Every part of this dynamic landscape of Alaska is home to cool critters and it is my job to find them. No pressure.

As it’s my first week on the Safari Endeavour, it must be beginner’s luck that I spot this solo male killer whale. The tip of his five-foot tall dorsal fin breaking the glassy surface of the water is our only indication that something lies below.

Orca swimming in Alaska

Who would have thought that watching an animal breathe could be so exciting?

Gasps of delight can be heard from everyone on board as the mist of each exhale disappears into the morning haze. He doesn’t seem bothered by the appearance of our boat and continues to swim towards us as we make our way up the middle of the channel.

Orca Whale Alaska

Almost as if he knows it’s our first whale sighting, he closes the gap to about 100 meters, and then leans onto his side and waves to us with his right pectoral fin.

Orca waving in Alaska

The exchange lasts only a few moments before he gracefully dives out of sight.

And just like that, Alaska has welcomed us back home. I have a feeling it’s going to be an amazing season.



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