Warden Camp Part II (July 22nd – July 29th 2012) by Thalia de Haas

The second part of my stay at the Warden camp, started nice and relaxed, although I have to say everyday had at least a whale in it, either a humpback, or the brothers, but there was no day without a whale.

On Monday we had the shift changes, which means it was the end of Kayla’s volunteer week. She ended with making us Pancakes. We had 4 people and one dog go out, and 2 extraordinary females came back in return; Erin and Kat; who I hadn’t met yet and which means Mark was the only man in camp.

Because this was week two and I had only 1 or 2 boat shifts the week before, my body was starting to ache, especially my knees, Germany you did not prepare me well enough! The lack of sleep was probably not helping, I was finally not caring about all the small sounds around my tent anymore, and the local Humpback whales get the great idea to wake me up in the morning. First one was Tuesday 3:45am and although I was slightly awake already, snoozing wondering what I was hearing, starting to realize I was hearing blows, when I set up strait in my bed, because, I am not kidding, this whale sounded like he was next to my tent and possibly needed help getting back in the water. Off course it only sounded like that, he was in reality about 50-75m away from my tent, happily, safely cruising the coastline, yes in the water. The sound of that blow was just so loud and impressive at that time in the morning, with no other noises around that it literally scared me out of my tent, I watched it go by in the faint light only being able to see the blows where after I tried to snooze for a little bit longer. The same happened to me on Thursday morning at around 4:30am, although these blows were further and I think it was a mum calf, because of the size differences between blows.

Ok fair enough I can’t really complain about Humpback whales going past my tent in the morning and although the first one made me sit up strait because it was so loud, I haven’t felt primal fear ever before in my life until Thursday night.

Thursday night at 1 am I woke up because I heard something I had never heard before, at least not in the wild and for real. It took me a while to realize what it was, I was listening to wolves howl. Just when I started to think that it was pretty cool to actually hear wolves in the wild, another individual joined in. This individual however was on the other side of my tent, not to far away and made me feel like I was between him and the rest of his pack. Next you know, movie scenes flashing trough my head, breathing is getting weird, you realize your alone on the other side of camp, and that you don’t have a clue what to do in a situation when things go wrong. Yes; I also had thoughts that tried to be wise, ‘it is summer there is enough food around for them’, ‘why would they come to camp?’, ‘why would they announce themselves before attack? etc. etc .etc. All very wise, all very true, all not helpful at that point in time. I finally fell a sleep clutching my knife and curled up in the middle of my tent about 3 hours later. And when my alarm went off and I found myself in my tent like that, in the fetal position, I felt kind of … how will I put it … silly. To make me feel better nature send me a Minke Whale right underneath the cliff and I have to say, who would not feel better after that?

During the first half of the week we did have the A30’s come in and briefly saw the two males and at least 1 female and maybe a calf, but it was in the evening and they were far away, next to this we just heard about them on the radio.

During the second half of the week we started to notice that the Brothers found some others to hang out with, three generations of A11. Sunday we all had the chance to really enjoy them. They’d gone east the day before through the bight, and today they decided to go west, and Nahwitti (A56, 22 years old and A11 youngest) and her kid (only 2 years of age) decided to do this really close to the cliff while grandma Yakat (A11, 54 years of age) kept a close watch a little bit further from shore and the two brothers were like male guards patrolling in front of the females. The brothers were only seen without their aunt this year and it was nice to see they found some companionship. After being really close to the cliff they decided to cross over into the bight and were milling around the area for a bit. Later we saw Nahwitti and her kid together with Kaikash while travelling east towards CP, Yakut was close enough to keep an eye on her daughter but slightly behind, while the older big bro Plumper was steadily heading towards CP a couple of 100 meters in front of them. At CP the males went in the direction of Swanson and the female kept cruising along Vancouver Island, only to return to the bit later that day and all hang out at the beaches. It was a great day and together with the wolf experience which I started to appreciate more and more it was a greet week!!

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