There are Whales and there are Whales

With permission from photographer Ken Thorne, whose photos these are, I would like to take you on a quick trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

The sun comes up on an inlet that brings in the Pacific Ocean.

DSC_1271edAs the day brightens, we see that a visitor has come in from the outside. A humpback whale blows his spume of foul breath into the air.

DSC_9540ed1Humpbacks are baleen whales. That means they have no teeth but rather they strain huge mouthfuls of seawater to filter out krill and other tiny sea creatures which they can swallow without chewing. Once in a while you can see them breaching — jumping out of the water, often landing on their sides; possibly to display dominance in a group; possibly to stun prey; possibly to scratch an itch. Who knows?

You can recognize humpback by the white under their flippers and tail flukes as well as the ridges on the  edges of their flippers.

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Some say the breaching is to warn of danger. As the sky and the waters darken, you have to wonder what is underneath in the depths. The clouds move on and reveal the threat.DSC_9027edA rather large family of another kind of whale. Killer whales. They are now more kindly called orcas. “Killer whale” sounds so brutal and might make us not love them so much. But there is nothing as bloody and brutal as a pack of killer whales moving in like a pack of wolves to kill a defenseless humpback whale (or many other kinds of whales). The appearance of these killers strikes fear into the hearts of most sea mammals.

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All right. I’ll admit I fooled you. These photos were not taken minutes apart, fortunately for the humpbacks of this inlet.

This time, they all sailed off safely into the sunset.

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31 thoughts on “There are Whales and there are Whales

  1. Those are great pics. You did have me fooled when you showed the pics of the Orcas. I was thinking that’s it for that poor humpback. It’s in a bay where is it going to go? As you say Orcas hunt like lions and wolves. Thankfully they weren’t even close! Thanks for getting my heart going 😉

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  2. These are magnificent photos… I’ve tried many times to capture the breaching… once at Langerbaan they were in the bay and I sat with my camera, it was so wonderful to watch all the antics I forgot the camera…

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  3. Such striking photos and insightful commentary Anneli. These remind me when I lived on the inlet above Tongass Narrows in Ketchikan. I rarely saw whales from there since it was foggy when I left and returned from work, but often out on boats on the weekend I saw them. I love whales!

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