I met K1 “Taku” in July 1994 while I was a volunteer through Earthwatch at the Center for Whale Research. Our team had been roused early with a report of orcas in Haro Straight. We got out there by 7 a.m, with bright summer sun and glass smooth water, and no other boats. Our researcher, Dave Ellifrit, identified K1 and his mom, K7, “Lummi”, immediately (I think Dave can identify orcas with his eyes closed!).
Both orcas came closer and closer, and then K1 started circling the boat (CWR has research permits), within about 10′, turned on his side, and looked me (all of us) in the eye! We listened to them vocalize on the hydrophone, as well!
That started my now 28 year journey of learning all about orcas, doing what I can to help them, and eventually moving to Whidbey Island in 2011, and volunteering for the American Cetacean Society and Orca Network.