Bit o’ nature fer ya

Fiddich, the dog, barks a certain way when he sees something in the channel and thinks we should know about it.  Generally speaking, he just barks for boats that are headed towards our shore and whales.  Sometimes a sea lion.  Rarely a seal. Eagles, ravens, and osprey go unheralded mostly because he never looks up.  He occasionally sees a mink, otter or some other mammal but this was not a ‘land’ alert.   This was a warning of something interesting on the water.  This was an ‘all hands on deck!’ bark.  You can just tell.

We went out.

A transient pod of orcas was moving up the channel and we saw them.  So had Fid. But they were way across the channel and so it really wasn’t relevant news.  A few dorsal fins and pffts was all there was, really.  We turned to go in.   We thought Fid had over-reacted.  He tends to do that now and again.

Then we saw it.

Just off our beach is a large rock.  It is half-submerged or half-exposed, depending on the tide.  It is the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.  Right then, it was half exposed.  And tucked in right behind it was a seal.  And it was busy keeping the rock between it and the orcas.

Taking Cover

Taking Cover

Even though the orcas were almost half a mile away, the seal barely made a ripple on the surface.  It moved imperceptibly so as to stay in place but there were no large seal-a-swimming type movements.  He was making like a Lilly pad.  This guy was hiding.  Laying low.  Making himself small.

And that is how we knew the pod was transient.  Transient orcas eat mammals such as dolphins and seals.  Resident orcas eat fish.  And resident orcas are mammals so even they hide from the transients.  The seal was definitely hiding.

It was not a David Attenborough moment.  It was just a bit of nature that you rarely see. Hide and seek for real.  Seal and orca.  It was pretty neat watching that seal taking care of itself and not getting caught out.  He/she was a long way off from the threat but still went into stealth mode and stayed put.  It was as invisible as it could be for as long as it took for the transients to be far enough away so that the seal could slip out from behind the rock and head in the opposite direction.

That distance was about a mile before the seal felt safe.  Once the transients were that far north, the seal headed south.

And we went back in the house.  And you thought Downton Abbey has drama!

6 thoughts on “Bit o’ nature fer ya

  1. I guess that seal was doing what many of we Canadians are increasingly doing, having some where to hunker down till things blow over.


    • I guess. But isn’t it increasingly more obvious that things are going to blow up rather than blow over? Can’t you feel it it? It is like the electrical tension we can feel when lightning is in the air or ‘they say’ when tornadoes are likely to form. You can just feel it – if you make yourself open to such feelings. I am no ‘sensitive medium’ or anything but I have felt things in the air that were like silent and invisible harbingers before earthquakes or storms or even unknown dangers (sometimes…too many scars to be defined as reliable). As a ‘kid’ who sped in my car all the time I could often ‘feel’ a police radar trap before I got into it’s range. In fact, I do not think I was ever caught. Don’t you (the readers) feel that there is something increasingly in the air? Don’t you feel as if hunkering ain’t gonna do it?


      • Yup, but the politically correct , middle of the road, pablum swilling politicians that we re elect year after year will save us! :)-


      • Given that we still live in the most hospitable part of the world and as you have commented before that we have more chance of being hit by a moose than experiencing any thing life altering, then let’s raise our glass to west coat isolation and may we continue to avoid complications.


  2. I had no idea that Transient orca pods would eat other orcas.
    The equivalent of the “zombie apocalypse” of the Orca world? .
    The seal was just exercising his right to swim softly and avoid confrontation which might end up in being eaten alive. Not much of a choice.
    How often do these pods cruise past your hacienda? Weekly? Monthly? Have you noticed an increase? I’ve seen more orca pods on the trip to Swartz Bay over the past 18 months than Ive ever seen. And Vancouver harbour seems to be getting its fair share of sightings lately. Searching for food I suppose. No shortage of seals. Was in Victoria last week and the sea lions are everywhere.


    • We see Orcas about a dozen to two dozen times a year but they come in bunches. Read Alex Morton’s book about them. It is fascinating. We witnessed an Orca attack on a school of dolphins who had been herded into a small bay and it was beyond thrilling and exciting, it was chilling in a danger-kind of way. The air (and I imagine) the water was charged with the vibes of killing! Absolutely primal!


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