Northward to the Whales!

As an avid advocate for whales and conservation I was incredibly excited to be given the opportunity to become involved with a program such as Cetus Research and Conservations Society’s Straitwatch. Being from the United States, I was ready for an adventure into the unknown as I loaded my car from my homestead in Northern California. Following the coast up through Oregon and Washington State was absolutely spectacular and a trip I would surely suggest everyone embark on at least once in their lifetime. The coastlines sparked the imagination as I wondered how similar or different the beaches would be in British Columbia. After three days, and a little misadventure in Seattle, I arrived in Port Angeles, WA to take the Black Ball Ferry Line over to Victoria. My heart skipped a beat as the huge Coho slowly pulled into the harbor. After what seemed like an eternity I positioned my car to be parked within the ferry then hurriedly ran up towards the cabin area and immediately out towards the bow. Although the evening air was very chilly (by the time I got to Victoria I could not feel any of my extremities) I remained out on the bow during the 90 minute crossing, hoping to catch of glimpse of any whale that may be present. As Victoria came into view I could barely contain my happiness as I began jumping and running around, getting a fair few looks from the other more mellow passengers. After docking I returned to my car and nervously approached the Customs booth; luckily they did allow me into Canada and hence I began my summer adventure on Vancouver Island. Following a tour of downtown Victoria I became acquainted with the Cetus office and met with Leah and Megan, who gave me an idea of what my duties would be which ranged from dock talks and outreach regarding the Be Whale Wise Guidelines to data collection on the boat. After six long years of not seeing any orcas I was excited at the prospect to be able to see them again while aiding in their conservation.

My first day down at the Oak Bay Marina began bright and early at 9am. I was introduced to other interns and boat drivers, who showed me how to get the boat ready to head out to sea. I was led through the checklist of where the various boat equipment was as well as how to go about collecting data on the vessel. Having no knowledge whatsoever in regards to working with boats, I soaked up all the information as best I could and by 5pm even knew what a “spring line” was! The day became even better when we encountered a group of orcas that were particularly active at the surface. I eagerly looked through my binoculars as the whales breached, gasping in awe at every behavior I saw before beginning another scan of the numerous boats that had gathered around the whales.

I returned to my rental that night exhausted but my adrenaline still pumping from the day’s events. I could not wait for the next day and wondered what it would bring. I am very pleased to be working with such wonderful and dedicated people and look forward to an amazing summer!

Written by Cetus Intern Angelica Rosa

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