Thursday, April 15, 2010

God’s Most Magnificent Creature

My opinion only. But it’s an opinion I embrace and believe in. Mankind excluded (because we humans are made in His image, and are not creatures) I believe the Orcinus orcas are the most glorious, magnificent creatures God created.

And I’m so grateful He did.

There aren’t many of us who don’t love animals. Most of us have a favorite, and a whale is a mammal, not a fish, so that makes them animals.

I began my love of the orca whale (technically not a whale, but rather the largest member of the dolphin family) when I was a kid. At what age, I’m not sure. I just remember my dad took me to Sea World in California. If it was before we went to Japan, I was five, but if it was after that, then I was ten. Funny I can remember going there, but I can’t remember how small I was. But when we went to Sea World, I saw Shamu.

I. Fell. In. Love.

Beautiful, gorgeous, amazing, Shamu tied my heart in knots and then promptly stole it.

I wouldn’t see another whale until I was twenty-one and visited an aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so that might sound strange. Especially since some of the orcas who are held captive in aquariums around the U.S., were supposedly captured in Penn Cove, where I lived for many years. I spent hours on the beach of Penn Cove, and I can honestly say I never once saw an orca swimming those waters. Nor have I ever seen one while I’ve ridden the many Washington State ferries.

Years later, when my son was in first grade, his class visited an aquarium in Vancouver, British Columbia. My son got caught up in the anticipation of the trip, and began reading books about orca whales. Soon he was drawing pictures of them, pictures this sentimental mom still has tucked up in the closet. When we finally arrived at the aquarium, it was magical. Kirk’s school had recently adopted an orca logo, which appeared on the name tags the children wore around their neck.

Standing at the bottom of the huge glass (or maybe Plexiglas?) aquarium, looking up through the water, we could see a giant whale on the other side of the aquarium. Kirk took his little name tag with the orca picture and held it up against the glass. Within seconds, the whale swam around the entire aquarium and stopped right where Kirk was standing, and then put his eye up against the picture. He stayed like that for a long time, staring at the picture. My son and all the nearby children were in awe of this magnificent whale. I was in awe of the fact that giant creature was intrigued by, and maybe even recognized, the tiny picture of the whale.

We learned some things, though, during that trip, about whales in captivity that kind of broke our hearts. So as lucky as we felt to have that experience, we were a little sad, too. Thus began my son’s desire to see the whales in their natural habitat. The ocean. As I mentioned before, though I lived near the water, I’d never seen a whale out there. But I’d heard many stories of people who had. Was I just unlucky?

A few years later, my mom bought me tickets for a whale watching tour. I took my son, hopeful we’d see whales, and yet prepared in case we didn’t see any.

This turned out to be a magical, inspiring day—a day where God truly blessed me and Kirk. I forgot my camera, and looking back, I’m kind of glad I did. I think I would have spent more time focusing on getting the right shot instead of enjoying the blessing of the show.

And yes, it was an unforgettable show.

The captain let us sit on the bow of the boat. My son and I had our gazes glued to the water, breathlessly watching, waiting. We didn’t care that it was cold and windy. We didn’t care that it rained. All we cared about was that from out of nowhere, the whales appeared. And they performed. They swam around the boat, leaping out of the water right in front of us. The captain said it was the closest the whales had ever come to his boat. Let me say, he did not chase the whales (which would have been cruel). They came to us. And they didn’t want to leave. The captain said it was best show he’d ever seen.

I like to think God whispered in their ear and told them to give us something special to remember.

I’ve never seen an orca since then, and I wish I could go back to that day and experience the wonder anew. But I don’t think that was the last time I will ever see one. Whenever I’m on the ferry or at the beach, I keep my eyes peeled, hoping, waiting…

And in case I never seen an orca on earth again, I like to think that someday, when I’m in heaven, God will let me swim with His most magnificent creature.

images courtesy of


  1. Love your story, Suzie! Few of us are blessed with such an up close view of these magnificent creations. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Sharon! Thanks for visiting today. Yes, I feel truly blessed. It was amazing. I would love the opportunity to go out on a whale watching trip again.

  3. I love the baleen whales myself. Many years ago I was on a whale watch out past Cape Ann Massachusetts and we saw a Northern Right Whale. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime event. What a thrill to see Humpbacks breach. When they come right up along the boat, you do want to reach out and touch them or swim with them.

    I've gone three times and would go again! (watching not swimming!)

    Up in the mouth of the St. Lawrence the belugas come in at a certain time each year. That would be really cool!

    But I can't imagine seeing orcas breaching in the ocean. They are fascinating. I think it's good that the marine parks educate people but I am not convinced these big mammals should be trained and kept like they are. Who knows?

    As we've been talking about tv shows this week at the Inkwell, I just thought of the old show Flipper and it's impact on the baby boomers.

    Thanks, Susie!

  4. Hey Deb! I would love to see the humpbacks breaching in the ocean, myself. Also, I've seen belugas, though just at the aquarium. They have a perpetual smile on their faces; so adorably cute. I do agree with you. I don't believe the whales should be kept and trained as they are; however, I know that orcas are social creatures and I'm not sure it's a good idea to put them out in the ocean after so many years of being around people. I don't really know what the answer is, I just hope that they don't capture any more. Once the ones in aquariums pass away, I don't think they should replace them.