I have spent around two years in the San Juan Islands seeing orcas from my kayak, standing on the driftwood at South Beach, or from Turn Point lighthouse on beautiful Stuart Island. None of these encounters could have prepared me for what I experience outside of Telegraph Cove. On a recent sailing trip, I was lucky enough to spend a couple days at the dock in Telegraph Cove, mesmerized by the cetacean bone collection at the Whale Interpretive Center, shoving fries into my mouth at the Orca Cafe, and indulging in probably too much caffeine from the Seahorse Cafe. This was week two of seven and I wish I could have spent the rest of the voyage in Telegraph Cove. All of a sudden, I saw everyone start running down the docks towards the water, looking in the same direction and pointing at something. The Northern Residents were swimming by!!
A group from A clan swam right in front of the entrance to Telegraph Cove and headed towards Beaver Cove. Knowing they had to turn around everyone waited patiently as the inhales and exhales got quieter and then started getting louder. Not only did this excite people watching on land, the Pacific White Sided Dolphins started coming over at full speed. They were leaping out of the water, what looked to be trying to play with the orcas, and brought this whole new level of energy to the scene. Some boats were now checking out the action and cheers were coming from the dock. The Northern Residents and Pacific White Sided Dolphins continued to swim and leap for a while, but were slowly heading east into Johnstone Strait and out of view.
This experience was important to me because it brought me hope. I had been around only the Southern Resident Killer Whales and their population is declining, making the future unknown. The SRKW sightings in 2017 were few and far between and I had spent the summer sailing around looking for them, only possibly seeing them once (it was from very far away and never got a positive ID for which pod it was). But the Northern Residents! How beautiful and majestic. Their population is doing well and they are seen frequently in Blackfish Sound and Robson Bight area. I had never seen Pacific White Sided Dolphins before or Northern Residents and this day was one I will never forget! I was able to see the Northern Residents a couple more times before I left the area and headed north towards Port Hardy. We heard the beautiful sounds of echolocating from the boat’s hydrophone, saw humpbacks, orcas, dolphins, porpoises in Blackfish Sound, watched the sun set over the Broughton Islands, and watched grizzly bears and black bears forage on the beaches. This area is like none other I have ever been to! Thank you Telegraph Cove for your hospitality and providing me a platform to continue to be inspired by the magic and mystery of the creatures below the surface.