These things happen when a bunch of orca aficionados get together… right in the middle of the first night of presentations (including an update on the Taiji drive hunts and the problems with sonar testing by the Navy), a small group of orcas passed by the island outside the house, and everything came to a halt. The 30-40 people in attendance immediately rushed to the porch with binoculars, telescopes, and cameras. “I hope this is a sturdy deck,” someone quipped.
The appearance of orcas reminded us why San Juan Island is the gathering place for the human Superpod – it is one of the best places in the world to see orcas, from land or from a boat. Even in a room full of people who devote their lives to studying orcas and advocating for their protection, everything stops when a group of whales swims by.
Yesterday was World Orca Day, so it was only appropriate that we celebrate with the orcas themselves. They have been out in force lately, and hopefully I will see much more of them during my week here. Even after only one night, I am already buzzing with new information and excitement at the potential for learning.
Today I am heading out to Lime Kiln State Park, home to the Lime Kiln Lighthouse and one of the best land-based whale watching places in the world. This evening, we have a screening of Blackfish and a Q&A with some of the scientists and former SeaWorld trainers who appeared in the documentary. Last summer, I was part of WDC’s screening and Q&A with director Gabriela Cowperthwaite in Boston, and I am excited to learn more from others who were involved with the making of Blackfish.
San Juan Island (SJI) is beautiful, and I have seen a number of seabirds on the ferry ride over, in addition to the orca visitors last night. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera handy for last night’s sighting, but I am better prepared today and hope to get some good shots to share!