Subject: ASK Question #1

Patrick Miller (
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 16:45:17 -0500

> I would like to know what your greatest encounter every with an orca was.

>    -Jordan-

Hi Jordan - 

   Thanks for your question.  I share your enthusiasm about killer whales and
enjoy using scientific techniques to investigate their behavior.  Of course,
in the times that I've been out in the field with killer whales I've seen some
really neat things.  

   One of my greatest encounters came one day when I was camping on the shore
in Johnstone Strait as part of a research project.  We heard the whales 
blowing from around the corner and ran down to the rocks to watch the whales
go by.  The water was particularly clear that day and the water was glass flat.         
You could look in and see the bottom right off the rocks.  When the whales
swam by, they came very close to shore.  I remember A36 (a female northern
resident) came particularly close and swam slowly by no more than 30 feet away
from me.  As I was watching her, she turned her body and her head toward me
and fixed her eye on me.  I'm quite sure she was watching me (although of
course I don't know for sure). 

    She slowly cruised by and the thought that she was looking at me standing
in my habitat (on the land) while I was watching her in her habitat in the
water gave me chills.  It made me feel good to be right on that boundary 
between the worlds we live in as different species.  I've often seen whales
from boats as well, but there is nothing quite as nice as seeing a whale from
the shore.

					yours in whale research,

						- Patrick