Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Car maintenance 101: How not to keep the windshield clean »« Tzoonie Narrows: a special wilderness spot by the sea

At last — I saw the grey whale

For weeks I’ve been hearing about the grey whale that’s hanging around not far offshore, here on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. Last Sunday, it spent the whole day off Roberts Creek Beach, close to where I live, but I was away. People I know have seen it off Snickett Park in Sechelt; I went there the following day, but it didn’t show. A friend of mine with an ocean view has watched it almost every day in Halfmoon Bay. Several visitors I know, here just for the day, have seen it.


Some people claim that it’s a mother and calf. Others say that they have seen a pod. Yet another said he thinks it’s a humpback whale, because he saw what looked like ridges on its side. With all of these descriptions and stories circulating, I was beginning to think that I was fated never to view the beautiful beast. 


After listening to friends’ accounts of awe and admiration in seeing this wild sea creature, I felt as if I was truly missing out. After all, it is rare to see a grey whale off our shores, particularly one that remains about 15 metres or so from land. A U.S. television news report recently stated that if a whale stays close to shore, it means that it’s sick and dying, according to scientists. I don’t know if that applies to the whale in our region or not.


Well, this week, I finally saw it, and it was a thrill to watch it. I was driving from Roberts Creek to Sechelt before 9 a.m. and wondered why there was such a traffic bottleneck in Davis Bay. Then I noticed people on the pier and shore staring out to sea, looking in the same direction. That’s when I saw it. It astounded me how close it was.


In Davis Bay, a square wooden float, which people use as an informal diving platform, lies anchored about 20 metres or so offshore. The whale was between this float and the shore. You could see the length of its body underwater by the smooth water surface it left above itself. Periodically, you could see its vertical fin, encrusted with white barnacles, poke above the water. Its tail also flicked above the surface occasionally. Every so often, it would blow air through its blow hole. I assumed that it was feeding. It was moving very slowly, not like the orcas that I’ve seen.


A few people in a rowboat were off to its side, about 20 metres or so away, just watching it. I parked the car and went over and looked at it from the beach. What a glorious sight. I feel truly blessed to have gotten a glimpse of it. I had my camera in the car, but did not think to bring it out; I felt that I wanted to have a direct visual connection with the whale, not place a barrier between us.


It buoys me to know that in today’s technology-crazed society, in which a multitude of images and messages are flashed at people every day, many can still find the sight of a wild whale a remarkable treat, worthy of stopping their car. Maybe there’s still hope for our species.

August 20, 2010 at 12:49 pm
1 comment »
  • August 21, 2010 at 6:49 amWendy

    Wonderful – Mother Nature is awesome!

Leave a Reply