Sometimes I wonder at the privilege I have living in Sitka. Two times of year are particularly wonderful. Spring brings great weather and the Music Festival as well as all the social activities that go along with that. As autumn closes in and hints at winter we pull together and there are all sorts of events, the Stardust Ball, Whale Fest, a variety of concerts sponsored by the Fine Arts Camp at the performing arts center, and Radio Theater.
We added a new one this year. Last Sunday, before Whalefest, the University of Alaska Whale Lab ran a fundraising whale watch on an Allen Marine boat. If it was to be a preview of Whalefest it promises to be a wonderful festival. This whale watch was in October so there was no expectation of decent weather but the weather was more than decent.
So where the whales. We started encountering a small pod of Orca (killer whales) hunting a harbor seal. We watched as these sleek black and white predators surrounded and caught the seal, carrying it underwater to drown it. They came up and the sale was still alive, head poking above the water line, gasping for air, in an effort to grab another few minutes of life in an ultimately losing battle.
After that we sailed into a whole lot of humpback whales. One of the biologists on board estimated there were 50. They were all around us, spouting, gliding and diving, all around us.
If this is a predictor this year’s Whalefest should be one to remember.