Sunday, October 16, 2005

Baby Whale in Clallam Bay

Dan and I were down walking the beach today, Sunday, in the grey mizzle. We had done a tour of the reef and were starting to wander back toward the town or river end of the beach, when Dan looked back and said, "Look!" and pointed.

Right next to the beach, barely 15 feet out, where the gravel shelves down about 10 feet deep, a 20-foot baby gray whale was feeding. If we'd wanted to, we could have jumped in and petted her. Her white-and-dark-gray mottled flukes and flippers waved in the air as she fed, and disappeared as she rolled to blow.

A couple of times, it became pretty obvious that she wasn't feeding, but was circling around to watch us. At one point she ground up on the shallow gravel shelf and had to kick a bit to get back into deep water.

We could see her light mottled form under the surface. She went out about 50 feet and then turned back and came straight toward me, quick as a torpedo. I might have been standing on the beach, but I gasped and backed up. All right, YOU have a 20-foot streamlined leviathan come at you and see what you do.

I ran back to get my camera, and on the way yelled at the kids that were walking along the street in the rain: "Baby whale on the beach!"

As I ran back from the house, one of the girls passed me at a dead run. They should have her out for track next year.

By the time I got back to the beach, all we could see of the whale was light puffs out by the kelp line as she moved off into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

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