We visited Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for 5 days in early August. Our main purpose was to see the Orcas or Killer Whales. There are three tribes, known as pods, of whales that live in Puget Sound. They are known as J (15 whales), K (another 15 whales), and L (a whopping 60 whales). Four or five times a year all three pods will gather in the same place (perhaps its a feast day? it is certainly a festival as it is the prinicpal time that individuals from one pod will mate with individuals from another pod!). We were lucky enough to go out whale watching on one of these days! We saw all 90+ whales that reside in Puget Sound in one day! As you can see from the photograph on the right, the water was still and clear. Ideal whale watching weather!
In addition to the resident whales, there are also around 100 Orcas who travel up and down the coast in packs of two or three whales each. We didn't get to see any of these, though.
Just recently researchers discovered that there is a mysterious pod of whales that live out in the ocean near the edge of the continental shelf. They've only been seen three or four times and they were spotted actually in Puget Sound by the whale watching tours on one occassion. It was this sighting of a pod of unknown whales that prompted scientists to consider the possiblity of large, highly organized pods living in deep water.
On our second whale watching excursion we got to see L pod swimming back into the Sound down the Straits of Juan de Fuca. They had been out to sea following a large school of fish and were coming home. The pod of 60 whales stretches out over several miles as it travels. Our boat pilot was quite good. He parked the boat over the path of the whales and five of the whales actually swam right under the boat so that we could see their whole bodies down in the water.
Researchers have worked out a way to identify each of the whales individually using their dorsal fin and the white saddle patches on either side of their bodies. The resident pods are organized as matriarchies with all whales remaining with their mothers throughout their lives. The leaders of all three pods are over 80 years old. They've discovered this by looking at photographs dating back to the turn of the century and identifying the whales that show up in the photos.
Victoria is a wonderful town. Jos was surprised how British it was! They even had electric tea kettles in the rooms of the bed & breakfast we stayed in. The house was a large mansion that had been converted into a hotel. On our last two nights we stayed in the old dining room which was a bit like, well, setting up a bed in a dining room and staying there!
There is a very cool cafe with a less than original name, Java. Clearly the in Goth hangout in Victoria. The city boasted lots of great Celtic music including large groups busking on the street. Fantastic bookshops, Murchie's tea (the best in North America), perfect weather. The food was, well, a bit British, if you catch my drift. Not that the quality was spotty but on two different occasions the waitrons insisted on taking the price of one of our meals off the bill. During one meal this was prompted by Jocelyn's innocent question, "Is the dressing MEANT to be fizzy?"
The ferry trips across Puget Sound were also great. We were blessed with glassy smooth water and sunshine so the San Juan Islands looked glorious. It was all I could do to keep Jos from jumping ship.
The Game Cabinet - email@example.com - Ken Tidwell