In 30 (holy crap) years of taking ferries to Vancouver Island and back, not once have I ever seen any majestic indigenous ocean wildlife. Seagulls and driftwood don’t count.

Well, I was coming back from a trip to Victoria last night on the ferry and about 40 minutes into the trip, the captain announced that there was a pod of Orca whales to the starboard. Everyone rushed over to the windows – tipping the boat like crazy, it must have looked really funny from the outside – and looked out.

There were 4 or 5 whales, super close to the boat. I saw the plumes of water first, then I saw a huge black tail arching out of the waves, then another, then another.

Then, THEN, one of the whales slowly rose it’s head and body up out of the ocean. So unbelievably beautiful, my eyes instantly filled up with tears of utter joy and awe. The whale looked right at the ferry for a second, then all of the pod dove under the ocean and were gone.

It happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to take any photos. Which was actually good, because for once, it was better not to see through a camera lens.

It’s been grey and rainy here and I was on a later ferry. When I’d boarded, I noticed that people seemed extra tired and cranky and quiet. Well, when those whales showed up, the entire crowd of people were smushed together at the windows, laughing and gasping and smiling at each other. People were practically sitting on each other’s laps and nobody minded.

The woman to my left, put her hand on my shoulder so she could stand on tip-toe. A little kid on the other side of me, pulled himself up higher by half climbing up my arm. And for the rest of the ride home, strangers were talking to each other, telling stories of animal sightings and encounters, talking about how beautiful BC is and just generally in a state of bliss. All from about 90 seconds of seeing those whales.

The whole experience was just incredible. Like a dream that you never forget.

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